Sunday, March 17, 2013
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Browned Butter Cake Layers
by Tom Douglas as found in Food and Wine magazine
3 sticks unsalted butter (12 ounces), plus more for greasing the pans
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp clear vanilla instead)
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. (Note, it took closer to 20 minutes for me.) Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter begins to set around the edge, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt.
Remove the bowl from the ice water and scrape up the hardened butter. Transfer the butter to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks followed by the whole eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
inspired by but not adapted from Tom Douglas
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons scotch whiskey (or bourbon)
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces milk chocolate, melted and cooled
pinch of salt
Melt chocolate (can be done in the microwave, stir after 1 minute, then every 15-20 seconds). Set aside to cool. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 tablespoon whiskey until softened, about 5 minutes. Heat remaining whiskey in microwave about 25 seconds until boiling and stir into gelatin mixture until dissolved. Beat cream in separate bowl until soft peaks for. Stir in sugar and salt. Add gelatin/whiskey mixture to chocolate then combine with whipped cream and whip until combined.
This is a sweet chocolate buttercream that is pretty easy to make and similar to a store-bought frosting. Will and I both love the sticky, sugary frosting on store-bought cakes though we are often embarrassed to admit it. It's frequently too sweet to be a suitable accompaniment to many more subtle cakes but I thought it would work with this carmelly golden cake, and it does! The recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate to counter all the sugar, and I didn't have any so I had to calculate the ratio of sugar and butter to replace, but I think I'll keep this version because I rarely have unsweetened chocolate around. This spreads super smooth and holds its texture wonderfully for piping.
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60-70% cocoa), melted and allowed to cool
6 tablespoons corn starch
4 cups + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks minus 2 teaspoons butter, softened
6 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder (your preferred brand, I just used Hersheys)
Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth.
For the white decorative piping, I just used some leftover buttercream I had in the freezer, and flavored it with the same whiskey as in the mousse. The flavor was quite pronounced and really delicious.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRECIE!
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
I made this cake for a baby shower, where I had completely convinced myself that the mama was having a girl, hence the pink frosting and decorations. After I took the above photo, I texted the hostess to confirm and she reminded me that actually the baby will be a boy! As the frosting is tinted with blackberry, it really was more purple than pink, and the multi-colored sprinkles helped the cake be simply festive instead of gender-conforming.
1.875 cups whole milk or buttermilk
6 large egg whites
2.25 cups sugar
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
¾ teaspoon pure lemon extract
The white cake always tastes a bit dry to me, but no one else ever agrees with me. And with enough fruit filling and silky buttercream, even my criticisms become unnoticable. The cake is worth it because of how sturdy yet light it is, and what great slices it makes.
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 T sugar
3 ounces blackberry-balsamic puree
4 T unsalted butter
pinch of salt
Beat yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients and heat over medium-low, whisking continuously, until mixture reaches 160 degrees. Do not allow to boil or it will curdle. It is messier and more wasteful, but faster and easier to go ahead and cook the mixture quickly, then just strain out any cooked bits of egg. It will thicken as it cools. Chill completely.
Note: both the puree/sauce and the curd keep very well in the fridge and in the freezer.
This buttercream is the best all-purpose recipe I've found, and it is gaining quite a position of prominence on this blog. To assemble the cake, I spread plain curd on one layer, and mixed part of the curd with some of the frosting, leaving the rest of the frosting plain. The tinted frosting atop the glaze of curd makes a delicious filling. Use the remaining tinted frosting to decorate.
Amazingly Simple Buttercream
from Laura Temple
Put egg whites and sugar in top of double boiler over simmering water. Whisk until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from heat and move to a stand mixer bowl. Whip on medium high until they are room temperature. (Wrap ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables around the base of the bowl to speed cooling).
Once the whites/sugar mixture is at room temperature, keep mixing, and add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time until all is incorporated. It might looked curdled part-way through, but just keep going and it will come together. Add the vanilla and mix just enough to incorporate it fully. Stir in any optional food coloring. This makes a great stark-white buttercream on its own.
Use immediately, or keep at room temperature and re-beat for a minute before using. If you want to freeze the leftovers, make sure to bring it completely to room temperature before you re-beat or it will curdle.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
I started making each component on Sunday morning and was planning to assemble it Sunday evening so it could rest overnight. Sunday afternoon, as my dacquoise was cooling and my buttercream was chilling, one of my guests emailed and asked to bring dessert. Buttercream and ganache keep just fine, and meringue should be okay sealed in an airtight container as long as it isn't exposed to moisture. So I didn't end up assembling the full cake until Wednesday evening, and we were still eating it like it was fresh-made on Saturday night.
Though Cooks Illustrated names this cake "Dacquoise," the word actually refers only to the layers. Dacquoise is meringue made with the addition of ground nuts. Both The Joy of Cooking and The Cake Bible has a different ratio of ingredients, and I will try another recipe next time; though I really enjoy very sweet desserts, I find that most people do not, and I think this is bordering on "too sweet."
As you can see from my photos, I didn't bother to spend a lot of time decorating it because it was just for Will and me, and not for company... though I rarely make a dessert as a "test run," in this case it was kind of fun to have it just eat and I will definitely make it again for a special occasion.
The recipes below are for my future reference. The link above has very easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions if you are making it for the first time, but the versions below scale back the sweetness. Also, in my version, I used all almonds instead of part hazelnuts.
from The Joy of Cooking
3/4 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 + 1/2 cup superfine sugar
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 200. Outline 13" x 10 1/2" rectangle on sheet of parchment, and lay outline-side down on cookie sheet.
Pulse nuts, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar in food processor until finely ground.
Beat whites until frothy, add cream of tartar, and beat at medium until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining 1/2 sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
Carefully fold in nut mixture and spread immediately on parchment in desired shape.
Bake for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, then turn off oven and leave with oven door closed for another 1 1/2 -2 hours.
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons amaretto (I used Frangelico because that is what I had; it is hazelnut liquer)
16 (2 sticks) tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Heat milk in small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. In separate bowl, whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in bowl until smooth. Remove milk from heat and, whisking constantly, slowly whisk a couple tablespoons of milk into yolk mixture. Whisking constantly, return tempered yolk mixture to remaining milk in saucepan.
Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is bubbling and thickens to consistency of warm pudding, 3 to 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Stir together liqueur and espresso powder. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add pastry cream in 3 batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add amaretto mixture and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes longer, scraping down bowl thoroughly halfway through mixing.
6ounces bittersweet chocolate (Lindt 70% or 85%), chopped fine
3/4cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons corn syrup
Heat cream to simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate and let rest one minute. Stir until smooth and stir in corn syrup. Set aside to cool, stirring periodically, until spreadable consistency.
Spread a thin layer of ganache on the flat side of each of 3 dacquoise layers. Place in single layer in fridge 15 minutes until firm. Spreak top of 4th layer with buttercream, and use as base of cake on platter.
Place chilled, ganache coated layer atop buttercream layer, chocolate-side down. Frost top of layer with buttercream, and repeat with remaining layers. Frost entirely with buttercream, and chill until set.
Spread ganache over buttercream. Garnish with slivered or chopped almonds, hazelnuts, or chocolate curls and piped buttercream if desired. Refridgerate at least 3 hours before serving. Slice with a wet (! - yes, it works perfectly!) knife into 12 slices. Keeps well for 3-4 days.
The recipes I've shown above are for a reduced amount of sugar that I think will better highlight the flavor and amazing textures of this dessert. But it would be amazing with any number of combinations of filling and frosting flavors, so I plan to make this again and get creative with the layers.
Friday, January 18, 2013
I highly recommend that you look at Rashmi's page because she has great photos and instructions. I used slightly less than one cup of beans but the same amount of other spices, plus extra parsley along with the cilantro. I made mine into patties instead of balls, and the recipe yeilded seven 2-3" patties. The flavor and texture were both excellent. I am certain that the secret to these guys staying together while frying was that the beans were not pre-cooked, just soaked. Whenever I have tried to fry bean patties before, it is has been with cooked (or canned! which I know doesn't work) beans, and they just fall apart. I'm so glad to see that the trick is in soaking the beans and then just pureeing them without cooking.
For dipping, I made a quick sauce of plain greek yogurt, a bit of curry powder, and a couple dashes of hot sauce.
May these bring us lots of good luck and great fortune!
Friday, January 4, 2013
Pear Sauce Cake
adapted from Warren Brown
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
15 ounces sugar
12 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup milk
1 cup pearsauce (see recipe above)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, preferably with removable bottoms (or line pans with parchment).
Combine butter and sugar in stand mixer and beat until well creamed. Beat in eggs one at a time.
Mix together milk, vanilla, and apple butter in one small bowl, and dry ingredients separately in another bowl. Add to butter mixture alternately in 3 additions. Divide evenly between prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden and start to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert to racks and cool completely.
White Chocolate Glaze
3 ounces white chocolate
1/2 cup cream
Heat cream to simmer. Chop chocolate. Pour cream over chocolate and allow to rest one minute, then stir until smooth. Cool slightly, then use as a drizzle, or chill and spread over cake. Keeps in the fridge for 2 weeks or in the freezer. Delicious eaten cold with a spoon!