Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

This month's recipe for the Daring Bakers is Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, chosen by Chris, whose blog is Mele Cotte.

Wow this recipe has a fancy name. Well this recipe worked out pretty well for me because I have about 4 packs of hazelnuts in the freezer. They needed to be used up. I have been diligently working on cleaning out the freezer so this was perfect.

I made the cake on Friday night. I had decided I was gonna make it over the weekend and I was excited to make it and I had everything I needed so I started on Friday night. I decided I would make the cake on Friday, let it cool over night and make everything else on Saturday.

The cake was pretty straight forward. I used a 10" springform because that's my only 10" pan. My mini chopper didn't work so great chopping up the nuts. I kind of gave up after a while and decided it was fine enough. All the nut bits weren't small enough to go through a seive but after a half a dozen times I didn't care and just dumped them in. My cake came out only about an inch thick. Maybe I didn't whip the eggs enough or I did something wrong with the butter that made the cake fall.

Well Saturday got wasted at work so the cake sat in the fridge until Sunday. I woke up first thing Sunday and decided I needed to do the cake. The cake was thin so I was really cautious splitting it into 3 layers. The bottom layer failed miserably. I started a third of the way up the side but I guess I angled the knife downward because there was no cake in the middle when I went and lifted the other layers. At least the top 2 were OK.

I left out the liquor in all the components. I thought about replacing with vanilla but then I forgot and decided not to.

The praline was an interesting experience. This was my first time making a caramel type thing. I ground it up in my minichopper but the frosting ended up a bit crunchy. I am OK with that. Though ideally I would have something that could make a paste if I wanted it to. Maybe I'll get a food processor and/or a new blender one day. The magic bullet commercials are luring me in so maybe I'll get one of those.

The buttercream ended up incredibly soft. I didn't have the issues with separation or whatever that a lot of other people seem to be having but at room temperature my buttercream was so soft it was almost liquidy.

When I went to decorate the cake I decided I would try the whole pastry tip thing and actually make an attempt at decorating. You always see them using a zip lock bag with the corner snipped on TV so I figured that would work for me. As you can see from my pic, it didn't. The pastry tip popped out when I went to start trying to squeeze it out of the tip. It probably didn't help that the buttercream was chilled and I was having trouble squeezing it.

So then I had a zip lock bag with the corner snipped full of buttercream. I figured I may as well use the bag to squirt it on the cake. If it came out really bad I would use a spatula and attempt to smooth it. Well I ended up with an off center bulls eye type thing but I got the frosting on so that was good enough for me.

I don't know if it is just me or what but there was a ton of the syrup, buttercream and ganache left. Maybe because my cake didn't rise so much there wasn't as much to cover. Who knows. I will make cupcakes and use the rest of the buttercream and fill them with the ganache.

Here's the original recipe:

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 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch 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 elevtric 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.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

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. 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.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recipe IP

Read this exchange between a food blogger and Cooks Illustrated or whatever is their conglomeration is. And go and look at the comments. People are really going nuts with it. I originally saw the posting from Evil Chef Mom, which I check with some frequency because she is entertaining and ranty and she was amused by Pi Day!

I knew there were probably some rules about what you could use/borrow from people in terms of recipes but I have always figured that I never really follow recipes very well anyway so it shouldn't be an issue. Sometimes I have even forgotten where the original recipe is from but after all the things I forgot...errrr..... modifications I made I never really cared. Plus I don't exactly have a following the way some real food bloggers do. That and with my horrible permutations on what starts off as a good recipe, they probably don't want to be associated with the monstrocity that I create.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Though maybe I should make sure to at least put a link into all of my recipes so you can see where they come from... at least from now on...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Smoked Salmon Spread

Just making it under the wire! Whew! So I didn't make the first one of the month on time and this one I am just barely making. Next month I will be moving and the month after that I may or may not be moved in to a place yet so I my chances of making those are pretty slim. I just hope I don't get kicked out of the group!

I am not sure what I am doing with it now that I have it made... I'll probably bring it to work tomorrow. I didn't have any dill so obviously that's not in it. I bought horseradish just for this; I had just about everything else already, except the smoked salmon. I will have to give away the horseradish, along with whatever else is left in the fridge when I move.

I actually made it this morning but didn't get a chance to post anything then because I had no time. When I got to work my hands smelled fishy and still smelled fishy after I washed them 3 times, lathering each time for at least 30 seconds with soap, which didn't bode well for the spread. Fortunately the dip tastes pretty good. I may have gone a little heavy on the lemon juice and horseradish but oh well. I kind of want to add some mustard to it too
(maybe because I have 4 jars of different kinds all lined up in my fridge) but I decided to stick with the recipe.

Smoked Salmon Spread

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt, and pepper, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pi Approximation Day

So I gave my notice last week at work. I will be moving to North Carolina in a couple weeks. I have told pretty much everyone at work by now.

The consensus was that everyone would effectively be going on a diet starting August 2nd. So naturally I have an effort to try and make as many baked goods as possible between now and then. Of course that's a bit of a challenge when it's 90+ degrees outside everyday and even hotter in my apt because it's on the 3rd floor.

In particular, one of the things that people were sad about was that I wouldn't be there to spearhead Pi(e) Day next year. Maybe it will live on in, I gave my 'Pi Day poster' to our finance guy; we will see how he does with it in March.

It was quite an event this year, with 20 some pies for maybe 40 people and the timing of it helped lighten the mood quite a bit around the office.

Well I won't be here for Pi(e) Day but tomorrow is Pi Approximation Day. A lot of older people know pi as 22/7 or 3.142857. Well that isn't exactly pi but it's close enough. So for Pi Approximation Day we all bring in stuff that is close to pie but isn't.

Here's the menu of what I am bringing:
Corn and Bacon Tartlets - the Corn and Bacon pie was so popular on Pi(e) day I made a bite size version
S'more tartlets - graham cracker crust, a bit of chocolate melted into the crust and a marshmallow charred just a bit on top, all in a bite size piece
Devils Food cupcakes with chocolate ganache filling and hazelnut praline buttercream frosting
Peach cobbler
Lemon and blueberry bars
Mixed berry puff pastry cups

Other people at work seemed excited about the idea so hopefully other people will bring stuff as well.

Did I mention this was a pretty major cleaning out the fridge/freezer/pantry effort as well? Pretty impressive considering I only decided to do it last night and I made everything last night and today after I got home from work don't you think? I probably shouldn't come home at 4:30 and bake the entire time until I go to bed too much more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sour Cherry Cheesecake Bars

I bought some sour cherries this weekend so then I had to figure out what to do with them. I had some cream cheese sitting the the fridge and a whole bunch of graham crackers that were supposed to be for smores but that didn't happen. And marshmallows but I forgot about those until it was too late.

Anyway, I ended up making sour cherry cheesecake bars. No real recipe but this is what I did.

Took 2 packs of graham crackers, 1/2 cup of sugar and a stick of melted butter. Crush up the graham crackers and mix with the sugar and melted butter. Press into 2 pans. I used a 9x9 and 9x13.

Mix 1 1/2 packs of cream cheese with sugar to taste, maybe 5 tablespoons?. Spread into a thin layer over the crust.

Pit a quart of sour cherries. Toss with a couple tablespoons of sugar and spread over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle some sugar over the top. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until done.

Probably should have greased the pan first but oh well. And I probably should have made less crust and only did one pan so it was covered completely with the cream cheese and cherries. There are some gaps where the crust peeks through the cream cheese and the cherries form a layer but they definitely do not completely cover the cream cheese.

Not much of a recipe but they look tasty.

So now what do I do with the marshmallows?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

This was July's first recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers. I got really busy and missed the day but here it is anyway. It was chosen by chosen by Sabrina and Alexander of Cooking with the Kids. Everybody together now, let's say 'thank you Sabrina and Alexander'.


Well I ended up making the Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread only a couple days late. And I actually followed the recipe, pretty closely! I even used the jalapenos. After I said I wasn't going to with the whole salmonella thing I saw them at Walmart and figured what the hell.

It came out quite tasty. I didn't deseed the jalapeno's or anything and it came out with just a little bit of heat, not bad at all. Flavorwise quite good. Firsts bite I thought bah, I like my cornbread sweeter but after that I got the salt from the cheese, oniony goodness and heat from the jalapeno's and realized it was good the way it is. It's very soft and almost cakey in texture, moreso than most conbread that I've had but I've never been big on the grittiness you can get from cornmeal.

I served it with some taco meat and my version of a mango salsa although it's more of a guacamole than a salsa. mmmm that was a tasty dinner. And lunch the next day. It will be for lunch again tomorrow but I think I am tired of it and it's less good now.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Ina Garten

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Spinach and Feta Phyllo cups

A few days ago I was really tired. Really really tired. So tired I left work at 4:30 and fell asleep when I got home and slept through the night. I woke up at 4:30 AM. At this point I was pretty well rested so I figured I'd get up. So what do you do at 4:30 in the morning? I could call someone and wake them up but then they would probably be whiny and not entertaining. So I decided to make something. Someone at work mentioned they would like it if I made something savory, I guess to balance out some of the sweets I usually make. So I decided to make spinach and feta phyllo cups.

I had been wanting to make something with spinach and feta for a couple weeks now, which is why I had the feta in the first place. Feta is not a kitchen staple for me; cheddar and parmesan are but not feta. I had the spinach thawed and sitting the the fridge awaiting an application. I had seen some recipes, like this post that forgot the spinach in the spinach and feta pie and this spinach and feta calzone and I had a pack of phyllo dough in the fridge so I improvised.

I finished them at 6:45 which worked out nicely. I put them in a container and brought them in to work, still warm. The phyllo dough lost its crispness in transit but it probably made them a little easier to eat because then they didn't fall apart.

Spinach and Feta Phyllo cups
Based off a lot of recipes, so who knows

1 large bag of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 container feta
4 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
phyllo sheets
butter, melted

Mix together the first 4 ingredients.
Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. You will use a fair amount of pepper and nutmeg.
Lay out single sheets of phyllo, brush with melted butter then cut the sheet into 12 almost squares. Stack up sets of 3 squares and push them into a mini muffin pan. Put them in every other cup on the pan so the cups do not touch.
Fill each cup with the spinach mix. It doesn't rise much so fill it to the top.
I wish I had sprinkled some parmesan on top but I didn't.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the tops are GBD (golden brown and delicious).
Repeat until you are out of phyllo dough or filling or you get bored.
I got tired of the cups so I started making egg roll type rolls out of it.

I have one of my grainy pics but it's probably not worth posting.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers

I just realized today is the posting date for the cornbread... don't have time today but I'll get to it by the end of the month! And with the whole jalapeno pepper salmonella thing (and the fact that i'm lazy) I will make it without the jalapeno's. Maybe I'll substitute something if something comes to mind.