Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' February Challenge: Tiramisu!

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. 

This challenge was exactly what I was expecting from the Daring Bakers! A tiramisu with many homemade components: mascarpone, savoiardi biscuits, zabaglione, pastry cream and of course whipped cream. Finding your own cow to milk to ensure non-UHT pasteurized dairy products was optional. Maybe next time, because I think I could manage that. Seriously. Thanks Aparna and Deeba for an amazing challenge!
I only had 4 days to complete this challenge, as I was leaving town for a month, so I couldn't do my usual procrastinating. I was a bit worried when it was recommended that we devote a couple of days to the components. In the end, it turned out that all the individual recipes were quite quick and easy. Really. According to some of my friends, I have a skewed notion of quick and easy, but I find time spent in the kitchen enjoyable and don't want to take shortcuts. 

This is the raspberry Amaretto variation. It was my favourite, and the only one I actually ate. I found the tart-sweet raspberries helped cut the rich creaminess. It was also really simple: I put a bag of frozen raspberries through the food mill and added sugar and Amaretto. I used some as a sauce and the rest for dipping the Savoiardi biscuits. 

This one is mandarin Amaretto. I had a big basket of mandarins in the fridge to get through, so I juiced them, reduced the juice with sugar and added a generous splash of Amaretto. 

The original coffee version, with some coffee-rum jelly. All the components on the plate reminded of the coffee jelly parfaits I used to eat in Japan. 

Because I had so much time, I froze some of the filling to make ice cream for some tiramisu parfaits: raspberry.

And mandarin.
I also made a coffee one, but I wasn't quick enough to get a picture and it was a soupy mess. A tasty soupy mess.

Continue reading after the jump for photos of the ladyfingers, mascarpone, and zabaglione. Here's the link to the full PDF of the recipe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TWD: Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I followed the recipe exactly as written! I'm not sure why I didn't take anything out, or substitute something, but I decided to give Dorie's cookies a chance. Everyone is always looking for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, and I'm no exception. I like thick and gooey-chewy cookies. Well, I actually prefer the raw dough, but I always bake some of it! These cookies were really tasty, and chewy, but they were a bit thin, so I'm still looking. Whichever recipe I decide on, I'll be chopping up bars of bittersweet chocolate from now on. So long, chocolate chips. It was nice while it lasted.
This week's recipe was selected by Kait of Kait's Plate, so head over to her blog for the recipe. To see what the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers thought of them, check out the blogroll
No TWD for me next week. I'm away and only had time to bake 2 of February's recipes before leaving. Bummer that I missed out on those brownies last week, and next week's cookies, but c'est la vie. See you on the 27th with the Daring Bakers' reveal. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wheaten bread

I'm not a bread fanatic. You know, one of those people who claims they could live on nothing but bread. I don't get it. I like bread. I've had amazing bread. I've even made some pretty amazing bread. But, really, isn't bread a buttery-delivery vehicle? Now, bread and butter, that's another story. And honey, mmmm. Don't even get me started on cheese. Occasionally I'll make a meal of a nice baguette and some stinky cheese. Maybe I do love bread after all.

Bread did form a huge part of my diet for the month I spent in Belfast. I was working, so I didn't have a lot of time to eat out, but I didn't find the food scene to be the most inspiring. I don't think I ever got over the shock of being told to buy my groceries at the gas station. Now, it was a proper little grocery store with produce, nothing like the stores attached to gas stations here, but still. A few times I walked 3 or 4 kilometres to Marks and Spencer, or to another large store, but I usually didn't have time. And, if groceries at the gas station weren't strange enough, they had Tim Horton's coffee and donuts! Yes, I know that Timmy's has taken the apostrophe out of their name, but I'm a bit of a stickler that way. It wasn't regular Tim's coffee, though. It was a machine that made lattes and other fake, frothy looking things. The donuts were plastic-wrapped. I didn't try either of them. Just knowing it was there was enough. For my non-Canadian readers, Tim Horton's is a nationwide chain of coffee shops. It's cheap, and many Canadians need a cup of Timmy's to start their day.

So what did I eat? Bread, of course! Wasn't that the whole point of this meandering post? Store-bought, wheaten bread, toasted and slathered with butter and honey. And I drank lots of tea. This is what I had for breakfast and dinner (and occasionally at 3 in the morning too, because you'll feel better in the morning if you eat something to absorb all that liquid in your stomach).

When it was time to think about leaving, I got a bit panicky. I needed a good recipe for wheaten bread, and fast. Luckily I had a group of Irish trainees to supply recipes, and I came home with one, and a large bag of coarsely ground whole wheat flour. I made it often when I first came back, and still make it every couple of months.


This is the recipe I've been making most often. It's adapted from the back of a bag of Odlum's Stoneground Coarse Wholemeal.

10 ounces coarsely ground whole wheat flour
6 ounces all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ounces cold butter
1 egg
425 ml buttermilk

Preheat oven to 300℉. Grease a loaf pan.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut butter in until it resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk egg and buttermilk together and pour over dry ingredients. Mix quickly and as little as possible. Turn into the greased pan and make a slash down the centre. The dough will be quite sticky. Don't worry about it. Make a lengthwise slash down the centre with a sharp knife and bake for 1¼ to 1½ hours, until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out onto a rack, and wrap in a tea towel if you like the crust soft.
Eat with butter and honey. This bread doesn't keep well, so I usually slice and freeze it, and toast the frozen slices.
Yield: 1 dense, craggy, cakey loaf.

I always serve this with ginger honey, which is just honey that I've stirred finely grated fresh ginger into. I use my rasp. This stuff keeps forever at room temperature and never crystallizes. It's amazing on pretty much anything.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

TWD: Milk chocolate mini (not) bundt cakes

Cake is my favourite dessert, so I was so happy that we finally had one to make this week. In fact, I baked 2 weeks' worth of Dorie along with the apple turnovers on Friday. I am going to Montreal for a month's work, so this was my only sure opportunity to bake.
It seems whenever I make one of Dorie's recipes I leave things out. I've never thought of myself of a minimalist, and if you could see the state of my apartment I'm sure you'd agree. Anyway, I left the following out of this recipe:
1. The swirl--I didn't want this to be like coffee cake.
2. The chocolate glaze--seems many of my fellow bakers had trouble with it. I did replace it, though.
3. The holes. I don't own a mini bundt pan.
That's not too many omissions, is it?
I realized I don't even own a muffin tin, as I gave it away a few weeks ago. I do have some 4-ounce ramekins and the batter was the perfect amount to make 8 small cakes.
These weren't bad, but I wish I had replaced the milk chocolate with dark, because I didn't find that they had enough chocolate flavour. They were really good warm with the caramel sauce and a few toasted pecans.

Oh, the caramel sauce: Mmmmmm! I had half a can of condensed milk left in the fridge from these, so I cooked it with about 3/4 of a cup of dark brown sugar, stirring until the sugar melted and then added around 1/2 a cup of half and half and a few tablespoons of butter and simmered until it was thick. After cooling slightly, I added some vanilla. 
This week's recipe was selected by Kristin of I'm Right About Everything, so click on over to her blog for the recipe. You can also see what everyone else came up with by checking out the TWD blogroll.