Daring Bakers Archives

July 30, 2008



Okay, I'm enjoying my cooking and blogging so much I decided to take on a new challenge-Daring Bakers. This is another baking group on the web where a recipe is chosen monthly, then we blog about the results. This is a more challenging group of recipes. In past months, they've made Opera Cake, Danish Braid, and other difficult recipes. They have very strict rules-the person who choses the recipe tells you what substitutions/changes are allowed, you make it anytime during the month, but are not allowed to post about it until the chosen date towards the end of the month. You're not even allowed to discuss what the month's challenge is.

This month's challenge was Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. You were allowed to use a different nut, and a different buttercream. But the buttercream had to be praline. You could also use any kind of fruit glaze, and decorate it however you wanted, as long as the buttercream was used in the decoration. It could be made smaller, but had to be round and couldn't be cupcakes. Since I knew the cake would already be a lot of work, I didn't want to use hazelnuts (filberts) because I didn't want to go to the trouble of skinning them. So I decided to make my variety using almonds, with a raspberry glaze. The liquors in my cake would be Amaretto and Chambord.

I decided to make this on July 4th, because I was home by myself and it was supposed to be cool. It didn't end up being cool, and my house got up to 76 degrees inside. Maybe that was why I had trouble with my buttercream. I know it's a lot colder here in Alaska than other places, and it probably didn't even top 70 degrees, but when you have lots of south facing windows in your house and no air conditioner, it can get quite warm inside. Enough about the weather, and back to the cake. I started the morning by making as many of the components ahead as I could. I made the cake layer (which is later split into 3 layers), which didn't cause me any trouble. You do have to have all of your ingredients ready to go though, and work quickly. This was a very sturdy cake to work with. I made the sugar syrup, the raspberry glaze, and the praline paste. No problems with any of these, except the praline took a LOT longer than the recipe said it would. I then decided I would make the entire cake that day. I was planning on making the components the first day and assembling it the next, but things were going well and I decided I should go ahead and complete it. Next came the buttercream. Another poster on the Daring Bakers website said this was a pretty easy buttercream to make. They said it did kind of curdle when you added the liquor, but then it came back together. I've made true Swiss Buttercream twice before, and it is not my favorite thing to make. Today just added to my dislike. I did have trouble with it. I think it got too hot, and it was curdled looking and wouldn't come together. I put it in the fridge for a while and rebeat it, and finally got it to come together. The praline paste and Amaretto were then added to it. The instructions said to set aside 1 cup for decorating the top of the cake, which I discovered later was not near enough.

Here's the process I went through:

The baked genoise:

The buttercream in its "curdled state" as I'm trying to get it to cooperate:

The split cake layers as the praline buttercream is being spread in between:

The filled cake layers awaiting their raspberry glaze:

After the cake was glazed with the raspberry jam and chilled, the Ganache Glaze was poured over. That process was fine. Then the problems began-the decorating. First of all, my reserved 1 cup of praline buttercream wasn't enough. I discovered that when I was halfway through piping rosettes on top. No scraping those off a ganache glaze and redoing. Then my buttercream began breaking down and running (yes, running!) down the sides of my cake. I wasn't serving this cake at a special occasion or anything, but darn it, I wanted it to turn out perfect. So into the fridge to harden up, as I'm trying to soak up the runs with the edge of a paper towel. After a while in the fridge, I quickly finished piping the rosettes, then came up with an idea to help cover the problem-I used toasted slice almonds to edge the rosettes. Helped cover up some of the mess. That, and turning the cake away from the camera the best I could to hide those few runs.



I had to try a slice the evening I made it. It was good, with the interesting texture a gateau cake has. And the praline buttercream did taste very good. I froze the cake, and liked it even better a few weeks later. Buttercream was even more flavorful. But after a full day of working on the cake, with the problems I encountered, I was thinking that sometimes the best cake is that easy, old fashioned cake with a fluffy easy icing swirled into a nice homemade-looking design.

I've decided not to type the recipe. It's just too long. Recipe for the Genoise, recipe for the sugar syrup flavored with liquor, recipe for the Praline Paste, recipe for the Swiss Buttercream, recipe for the Praline Buttercream, recipe for the Fruit Glaze, recipe for the Ganache Glaze, then the instructions for assembling it all. I think you might be agreeing with me that that Old-fashioned chocolate cake, or Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese icing is sounding pretty good...But, it is called Daring Bakers, and I'm glad I completed the challenge!

August 31, 2008



For those of you who read my blog last month, you might remember that I joined a group called The Daring Bakers. This is on on-line group, who each month all bake a challenging recipe chosen by one of the members. They give you the recipe, and then state what modifications can be made. I thought this month might be a savory choice, but no, it was CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS. I have made pate a choux dough before (I made small puffs filled with shrimp salad and curried chicken salad as an appetizer once), but had never made eclairs. When they posted the recipe, they noted that it was from the cookbook Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. I thought that sounded familiar, and after begining to look through all of the chocolate cookbooks I have, there it was! I had only made one thing from the book, and that was the Apricot and Ginger Chocolate Loaf Cake. I remember it being very good, but that was probably 5 years ago. So I was only happy to try the eclairs. This recipe has the regular pate a choux dough, a chocolate pastry cream filling, and a chocolate glaze on top. You were allowed to change either the cream filling or the glaze, but one had to stay the same. I decided to honor Pierre and make the recipe exactly as stated.

I began with the chocolate pastry cream. This consisted of bringing milk to a boil, then whisking in a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. This is cooked for several minutes at a boil, then melted chocolate is stirred in. This mixture is then cooled in a ice bath. Once the mixture is cooled to a specific temperature, butter is stirred in. That completes the pastry cream. And let me tell you, it was delicious. It was hard to not keep sneaking spoonfuls out of the bowl.

Here is a photo of the pastry cream being made:

And here is a photo of the completed chocolate pastry cream:

Next, I made a chocolate sauce, which was one of the components in the chocolate glaze. This was made by heating bittersweet chocolate, water, heavy cream, and sugar together, bringing to a boil, then reducing the heat and cooking until thickened.

The next component was the pate a choux. When I made this in the past, every part of the mixing was done by hand, so I was glad to see a mixer played a part in this. You bring milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil, and then all at once you add flour, and stir, stir, and stir. The dough comes together, and you continue stirring, cooking over medium heat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Your arm feels like it will fall off (at least mine did-maybe I need to lift more weights). Then you get to move it to a mixer (yea!) and mix in 5 eggs, one at a time, until all is incorporated.

Here's a photo of the dough before the eggs are added:

And here's what it looks like after the eggs have been added:

While the dough is still warm, you put it in a pastry bag, and pipe out "chubby fingers" to make the eclair shape. Some I made 4" long, as called for, and some I made more miniature. Then they bake for about 20 minutes. I somehow mistakenly turned the oven off when setting my timer, so while these were supposed to be baking at 375 degrees, I noticed my oven temperature was down to 270. I was afraid they wouldn't turn out, but I left them in the oven while I turned it back up, and cooked for the called for 20 mintues, then I reduced the heat to 350 degrees, and continued to bake until they seemed done. I did have problems with some of them deflating upon cooling, but it sounds like many who made this recipe had the same issue, and it didn't really affect the outcome.

Here's what they look like after being piped out (I didn't remember to take a photo until they were in the oven, so not the best photo):

And here's what they looked like after baking:

After they were baked, I made the Chocolate Glaze. For this, you bring cream to a boil, then slowly stir in chocolate until melted. Then when it has reached a specific temperature, you stir in butter, and the chocolate sauce that was made earlier. When this is at 95-104 degrees, the glaze is at its best for pourability and has a beautiful sheen.

I then cut the pastry dough in half, and filled then with the chocolate pastry cream:

The tops were then spread with the chocolate glaze, and then placed on the filled bottoms.

Here's another finished photo, this time of the mini eclairs:

These eclairs were very good. Both the pastry cream and the glaze used bittersweet chocolate, so they weren't overly sweet. Eclairs are not my favorite sweet, so I probably wouldn't make them again unless someone requested them, but I now know another pastry I can add to my repertoire. And the leftover chocolate sauce makes a great hot chocolate (I'm having a cup as I type!)

September 27, 2008



As you might know by now, I belong to on online group called Daring Bakers. Each month we have a challenge posted, and are given the recipe and told what changes we are allowed to make. There are many Alternative Daring Bakers, some Vegan, and some Gluten-free in this group. Two of the Alternative Daring Bakers made the choice this week. They chose Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. We were allowed to make the crackers with wheat or gluten-free. I chose to use bread flour for mine. We also were to make a dip/spread for the crackers, which had to be gluten-free and vegan. I hope I met the criteria for that.


I LOVE these crackers. They were fast to make, once the dough had 90 minutes to rise. The dough was very easy to roll out. I did make some variations from the recipe, and I'm posting the recipe as I made it. I divided the dough in half and rolled out to cover two baking sheets, not one as the recipe called for. This makes the dough much thinner, which makes the crackers very crispy. I also rolled the dough directly onto a silpat, covering it completely then just lifting the entire silpat and setting it down on my baking sheet. The recipe also called for spritzing the dough with water before sprinkling on any seeds, but instead of doing that, I very lightly brushed with olive oil then sprinkled on. I used fleur de sal (did I spell that correctly?) and freshly ground pepper on both, then added chopped fresh rosemary to one. You can cut the dough into shapes before baking (I used a pizza cutter to cut one tray into rectangles) or you can bake whole and break into shards after they have cooled. This dough can also be rolled thicker and made into pita.


The dip I made was Beet, Chickpea, and Almond Dip. It sounds very strange, and the color is very unique, but make this dip-it is great! Very garlicy, and addictive. If the color really turns you off, use golden beets.


Makes 2 sheetpans of crackers

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon agave syrup or sugar(I used agave syrup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temp (watch this quantity-may need less)
Any toppings you want, such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, kosher salt, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the agave syrup, oil and enough water to bring everything together to form a ball.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Let set at room temperature 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading.)

Lightly dust the counter with flour (or for ease, use a silpat) and divide the dough in two. Press each half of the dough into a square with your hand. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. If the dough stretches back, let it rest so the gluten can relax. Either lift the silpat directly onto your baking sheet, or if not using silpat, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and transfer the dough to the parchment paper.

Very lightly brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle on your choice of salt/seeds/herbs. Press into dough. If you want to precut the crackers, use a pizza cutter and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You don't need to separate the pieces. If you want to make shards, bake the sheets of dough without cutting it first.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crackers are browned evenly. It helps to alternate racks and directions of the pans to evenly brown.

When the crackers are done, remove the pan from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.


1 large beet, peeled, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 cup drained canned garbanzo beans(chickpeas; from a 15 1/2 oz pan)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Cook beet in med saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain;place in food processor. Add garbanzo beans, olive oil, almonds, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add the red wine vinegar and blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer dip to med. bowl. Leftovers keep well in the fridge, but bring to room temp. before serving.


October 29, 2008



I was anxiously awaiting what the Daring Bakers Challenge would be for October. We've made lots of gooey, sweet things in the past, and last month was a nice Lavash Cracker. I was hoping for another savory item this month, but wasn't holding my breath. But when I saw the challenge post, I was lucky-pizza and toppings. I've made lots of homemade pizza in the past, so I thought this would be a very simple challenge-until I read that you have to use the tossing method to make the crust, and take a photo of your tossing in action. Okay, I thought, this could be fun.

The challenge was to use the tossing method for at least 2 pizza crusts, then to use both a sauce and topping to complete the pizza.

So I invited another couple to come over and have a Pizza Party with us. The recipe says it makes 6 crusts, but since there were just 4 of us, I decided to make 4 different kinds of pizza. The first pizza was a fig jam, proscuitto, and gorgonzola pizza. The second one was a browned ground lamb, carmelized onion, tzatziki sauce, calamata olive, and feta cheese pizza. The third one was marinara sauce, gryere cheese, crispy pancetta, roasted garlic, and carmelized onions. And the last one was your basic margarita pizza-marinara, fresh basil, and mozzerella cheese. All of them were great, and I couldn't say which our favorite was, as we finished them all!


November 29, 2008



The recipe is courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater.
The host of this month's challenge is Dolores of culinarycuriosity. Her cohosts are Alex-Brownie of the Brownie and Blondie duo, and Jenny of Foray into Food. And for those of you who are alternative bakers, you can go to Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go for modifications.


December 28, 2008



As you all might know by now, I am a participating member of Daring Bakers. Each month we are given a baking challenge, and sometime during the month we complete the challenge, then post about it on the specified date at the end of the month. Before this month, I had participated in 4 challenges (I think that's right, unless I am forgetting about one) and some have been much more challenging than the others. This month's challenge rates up there with the most challenging. Before I tell you about the challenge, I'll say that when I printed off all of the instructions and recipes to begin with, it was 18 pages long! Okay, the Challenge this month is…

A French Yule Log!!!

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.

A little background about Yule logs: In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that the Daring Bakers made last December, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.

The French Yule Log recipe contained 6 elements, all of which had to be included in our logs:
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing

Recipes were given for each element, along with a few variations. But you were allowed to make changes to the recipes and flavor the elements as you chose.


This is the inside of my Yule Log. My elements were an Almond Dacquoise, a Dark Chocolate Mousse flavored with raspberry puree, a Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert, a Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert, a Vanilla Creme Brulee Insert flavored with Chambord, and a Dark Chocolate Icing.


January 29, 2009



Time for another Daring Bakers. I wasn't sure what to expect for this month-would it be a savory recipe, or another detailed cake? I was pleasantly suprised when I saw the challenge-Tuiles. Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are molded over a rolling pin while they are still warm. Once they set up, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles after which they are named. There is also a Dutch angle to these-traditionally this batter was used to bake flat round cookies on December 31st, representing the year unfold. On New Years day, the same batter was used, but the shape of the cookie was different-they were shaped as cigars and filled with whipped cream, symbolizing the New Year that was about to roll in. The Dutch sometimes refer to this batter as tulip-paste.

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.

They chose Tuiles because they thought we all needed something lighter after the holidays. We were instructed to make our tuiles using one of the batter recipes we were given, then shape them either prior to baking, using a stencil, or molding them after baking. We were then to pair them with something light.

I topped mine with two very simple things-a small slice of Brie and a thin slice of pear drizzled with honey and sprinkled with finely chopped pistachios, or a small slice of Brie and a small dab of blood orange cognac marmalade, again with a sprinkle of pistachios.

The Tuiles were easy to make and had a nice subtle vanilla flavor.


February 28, 2009



Time for another Daring Bakers challenge. Since February is a month that is often associated with chocolate and Valentine's Day, I thought the challenge might have a chocolate component, and it did- Chocolate Valentino Cake.

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."

The Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan, is a flourless chocolate cake. The recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan.

This was a very straight-forward cake to make. You need to use good chocolate. Since that's the main ingredient, your cake is going to taste just like the chocolate. We were given the recipe for two vanilla ice cream recipes we could use, but I decided to use the Raspberry Ice Cream from David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop".


March 27, 2009



Time for another Daring Bakers Challenge!!! What would it be this month-another fancy cake, some type of pastry using a special dough, maybe Macaron cookies? And then it was announced-Lasagna. What? I thought this was a baking group. I didn't think of Lasagna as baking, but I love Italian food and was quite happy with the choice.

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 is a dish that has successfully transcended borders and is today made around the world, albeit with many variations from the Italian original. Even within Italy, there are many variations and each region has its own lasagne tradition. But, as Lynne explains in her introduction to the recipe –and Enza, as our Italian expert for this dish, also agrees - the dish should always be a “vivid expression of the ‘less is more’ philosophy of cooking. Mere films of béchamel sauce and meat ragu coat the sheerest spinach pasta. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese dusts each layer. There is nothing more; no ricotta, no piling on of meats, vegetables or cheese; little tomato, and no hot spice. Baking performs the final marriage of flavours. The results are splendid.”


April 27, 2009


It's time for another Daring Bakers Challenge. There's always such suspense when waiting to see what the choice for the month will be. I was very happy when I saw the post - Cheesecake!

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. She decided to pick a basic cheesecake recipe, and our challenge was not only to make the cheesecake, but to come up with a unique flavor and presentation.


I decided to create a Pina Colada Cheesecake. I recently returned from a trip to Hawaii, and brought some fresh pineapple back with me. I wanted to incorporate that into the cheesecake, and what a better way than combining it with the flavors of coconut and rum.

This cheesecake is baked in a water bath, which allows it to cook at a slower, more even temperature. The texture was so nice-light, almost fluffy. Not the heavy dense cheesecake you might be used to. It is really a nice recipe. A hint-if your springform pan isn't completely watertight, be sure and wrap a couple of layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the pan to prevent water from seeping in and making the crust soggy.


May 27, 2009



It’s the end of May, and time for another Daring Baker’s Challenge. 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.

This was going to be a challenge for me, because I couldn’t imagine being able to make a dough that would stretch to a 2 foot x 3 foot rectangle. Yes, that’s what the recipe said to do. And you know what? I was able to stretch it that much.

We were able to use the apple filling that I’ve listed below, or choose our own. I decided to use what I had on hand-a combination of apples, rhubarb, and strawberries. I added some spice with cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. It was a delicious combination. The dough was nicely browned with multiple flaky layers, and the filling was juicy and flavorful. Just what you're looking for in a strudel.



June 27, 2009



It's the end of June, so that means time for another reveal of the Daring Bakers. 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 (or pudding) that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

Bakewell tarts or puddings combine a number of dessert elements. Like most regional dishes there’s many ways that you can make a Bakewell Tart. The version we were challenged with combines a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam. We had 3 elements we were to complete: 1. Make a sweet shortcrust pastry 2. Make a frangipane 3. Make a homemade jam or curd(actually, this last element was optional).

I chose to make two shapes. The first shape were filled in mini muffin tins. These I filled with a homemade spiced bing cherry jam. I'll post that recipe later this week. It's a really nice jam-sweet, but spicy with cinnamon and cloves.


The second shapes were made in little oblong tart pans. Some I filled with homemade raspberry jam, the others I filled with store-bought jams-ginger-fig and papaya-orange-habanero.

I really liked these tarts. The almond flavor, combined with your choice of filling was a winner. My favorite flavor was the raspberry, with the spiced cherry right behind.

Continue reading "JUNE DARING BAKERS" »

July 27, 2009



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. She had been wanting to try Gand’s version of her favorite store bought cookies which were the Peppridge Farm Milano Cookies and the Mallows (Chocolate covered Cookies).

I had high hopes for these recipes, but unfortunately, I was disappointed.

The Mallow cookies were the best. The problem with this recipe was it was hard to get the chocolate coating to harden, and the yield was way off. I forgot to count, but it made dozens of cookies. I followed the recipe for the cookies and coating, but used a different one for the marshmallows. I've posted it below. The homemade marshmallow filling was flavored with strawberry puree and orange flower water. They were really yummy and I'll for sure be making more homemade marshmallows in the future.

Continue reading "JULY DARING BAKERS - COOKIES!" »

August 27, 2009



Another month almost gone. August sure did fly by fast (I know, we still have a few days left in the month). I decided to make my Daring Baker's Choice at the beginning of the month this time. No scrambling for me, except for one thing-I almost forgot to post it. Only a few hours late though, so all is well. But I am struggling here typing this in-I cut my index finger 2 days ago with a nice, sharp knife, and now have 7 internal and 7 external stitches in that finger. The finger hurts and is partially numb at the same time, so typing is not an easy thing. Ignore any typos I may have here please.

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.

Do you want to know about the history of Dobos Torta? Well, the Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

This cake tasted really good, but the buttercream was difficult to work with. It tasted SO good, but as soon as it was set out at room temperature, it softened up too much and the cake began to slip and slide. And it was even a cool day here in Alaska when I made it.

If I make it again, I'll skip the caramel on top-it was too sticky to eat, and just got in the way of slicing. I know, it's not a Dobos torta without it.

Looking forward to seeing what kind of creation I get to make for the September challenge!


September 27, 2009



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.

Vols-au-Vents are puff pastry cases filled with anything we chose to make (savory or sweet). The real challenge here was making puff pastry from scratch. Puff pastry is in the ‘laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough. A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “détrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.

Well, I've always wanted to make puff pastry so this was a perfect challenge for me. And I loved it! The process did take most of the day, but much of that time was waiting for the dough to chill between turns. The pastry was easy to work with, and tasted sublime. When my husband was eating the vols-au-vents, he was actually moaning! Crisp, flaky, and buttery.

I chose to fill mine with 2 very simple fillings that could be used as a brunch or appetizer. One was a very basic egg salad and the other was a simple smoked salmon salad (smoked salmon, capers, mayo). And I have 3/4 of the dough still in my freezer, and I can't wait to make a decadent pastry dessert with it!

One day when you are feeling adventurous and are craving a crispy buttery delight, try making your own puff pastry. You won't be sorry.


October 27, 2009



It's almost the end of October, which means it's time to share our October Daring Bakers challenge. 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 was so excited when I saw this, because I've always wanted to make French Macarons. I've read about how difficult they can be to make, so I had never attempted them. Until now. Oh yeah, for those of you who don't know what a French Macaron is, it's a cookie based on either ground almonds or almond paste, combined with sugar and egg whites. The texture can run from chewy, crunchy or a combination of the two. Frequently, two macaroons are sandwiched together with ganache, buttercream or jam, which can cause the cookies to become more chewy.

A lot of people said they were having trouble with the recipe we were to use for this challenge, so I decided to not only make the challenge recipe, but two others as well! I'll give you a brief overview of what I made, but I'll give more detailed posts later on the other recipes. Today I'll concentrate on our challenge recipe.

We were given Claudia Fleming's recipes for the macarons. We were required to use that recipe, but we were allowed to flavor them as we pleased, along with choosing any filling we wanted.


March 27, 2010



It's time for another Daring Baker's challenge. The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris. The dessert is made of different layers: a pate sablee with orange marmalade, a flavored whipped cream topped with fresh orange segments and served with a caramel and orange sauce.

This was a nice dessert to try. Nice and citrusy, but light. It begins by making a pate sablee for the cookie base. I've made lots of pate sablees, and this was a pretty standard recipe. Next is the orange marmalade. This I was really impressed with. I've never made it before, and often don't like it because of it's bitter quality. But in this marmalade, there was no bitterness at all. You cook the orange slices in water three different times, changing the water between each, to get rid of any bitterness. It really worked well. I'm sure I'll be making more of this marmalade in the future to enjoy on toast. The next layer is whipped cream, to which I added a little Grand Marnier. The whipped cream is topped with orange segments that have soaked in a orange caramel.

I followed the directions as listed except for the assembly. Instead of assembling upside down as instructed, I just used the cookie cutter to assemble in right-side-up. I placed the cookie inside the cookie cutter which was sitting on my serving plate, then I spread the top with marmalade. I then spread the whipped cream on top of the marmalade, then arranged the orange slices on top. I then carefully lifted off the cookie cutter. Maybe because my whipping cream was quite firm, everything stayed nicely in place.



June 27, 2010

June Daring Bakers - Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse


It seems like a long time since I posted a Daring Bakers' challenge. I think missed the past month or two, but I'm looking forward to participating again.

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

When I saw this recipe, I was really looking forward to trying it. I haven't made any desserts in a while, and they used to be my favorite to make. I knew this had to be a hit, as how can you go wrong with chocolate and mascarpone cream?

Well, I did have one thing go really wrong. My chocolate meringues did not turn out. They tasted good, but looked awful. I realized they were not going to turn out when they were just partially cooked. So I made up a batch of vanilla meringues, and they worked nicely.

If you don't like bittersweet chocolate, you might want to use a chocolate that has a lower percentage of cocoa. This recipe called for 72%, and it's not a very sweet mousse. I liked it bitter, but others would have preferred it a little sweeter. The recipe makes more mousse and mascarpone cream than what you will need. I think I got 6 meringues from the recipe. We enjoyed the leftover mascarpone cream over berries for many nights after that.

Thanks Dawn, for a great challenge!

Continue reading "June Daring Bakers - Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse" »

July 27, 2010

July Daring Bakers - Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake



It's the end of July, so time for another Daring Baker's Challenge. The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

We had a lot of leeway with this recipe. We could change ice cream flavors, fudge sauce, or cake flavor. I chose to make small cakes-the perfect size for 2 people to split. I went with a vanilla chiffon cake that was filled with whipped cream flavored with home-made orange marmalade and Grand Marnier. The first ice cream I made was Vanilla-Orange, a vanilla bean ice cream flavored with orange zest and Grand Marnier. The second was a very rich chocolate ice cream, flavored with Bailey's Irish Cream. The fudge layer was a basic cocoa recipe to which I added chopped bittersweet chocolate. A very rich dessert indeed.

I'm sorry, but tonight I'm too lazy/sleepy to type in 4 different recipes, none of which are on-line. I'm going to post the recipe that was given to us by our host, and then tell you what I changed.

Continue reading "July Daring Bakers - Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake" »

October 27, 2010

October Daring Bakers - Doughnuts!


The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I've been absent from Daring Bakers for a month or two now. I've been so busy with my other cooking projects (Pomodori E Vino) that I simply ran out of time. Well, that, and I just got back from a 3 week vacation to Italy and France.

When I saw the October Daring Bakers Challenge, I knew I didn't have long to complete it, but I was excited to do so. I have never made doughnuts, and I rarely fry anything and have a deep fryer I've never used. All of the recipes sounded good, and I didn't have time to do a lot of searcing of others to possibly make. So I chose the recipe on Epicurious for Pumpkin Doughnuts. This fall weather has me thinking of squashes and those spices that go with them such as nutmeg and cinnamon.

It was a great choice! I made the batter on Saturday afternoon, and made some doughnuts that evening. What a nice dessert. I can only imagine how good these would be made as doughnut holes and served with a vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce. Or just a caramel ice cream. Yum!!! On Sunday morning, I fryed up the remainder of the dough. It was still perfect after being in the refrigerator all night. I did get them a little crunchier than they probably should have been. My fryer only has set temperatures, and I had a choice in this range of 350 or 375. I chose 375. I was afraid the center wouldn't cook, but it did. Next time I could make them a little thicker and probably still have the center cooked.

The pumpkin flavor really comes through in the doughnuts, as does the spice flavors. I didn't do the glaze, but simply coated them all in the Sugar Spice mixture.

I know that doughnut making is now something I will have to do again in the future. I was really suprised at how easy they were

Continue reading "October Daring Bakers - Doughnuts!" »

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Baked Alaska in the Daring Bakers category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Curds Our Whey is the previous category.

Daring Cooks is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.33
© 2008 - 2014 Slow Travel