Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TWD: Nutty, Chocolatey, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake

Tuesdays With Dorie is wrapping up January with Nutty, Chocolatey, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake. In her recipe notes, Dorie acknowledges that in the years she has been baking, cakes like this have come in and out and back in of fashion. I thought this was funny, because before I joined Tuesdays With Dorie, I thought Bundt cakes were sort of seventies-era, boring potluck food. I now own several Bundt pans and enjoy making Bundt cakes. How can you not love the instant gratification of unmolding a cake from a pan and calling it done? Well, perhaps a quick sprinkle of powdered sugar or glaze, but you know what I mean. Though, that being said, this was the very first time I ever had an issue with a Bundt cake sticking to the pan (despite implementing Flo Braker’s butter, cooking spray, and flouring method to prep the pan), so this one isn’t quite so pretty.

This cake was so good, though, that it doesn’t matter at all what it looks like. I think my favorite part about the cake was the textures. The outer layer browned and had a nice crunch, the inside was nice and soft, and the swirl was perfectly crispy. You really couldn’t have a bad bite with this cake. Last week I skimped on the sour cream in the TWD recipe, using yogurt instead. I was a little disappointed with the results, so didn’t mess around this week (though I did use light sour cream) and it was 100% worth it.

This recipe rated a 9 for Deliciousness and a 4 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.25. Many thanks to Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort for hosting this week. I’ve been sick this week and this cake definitely did bring me some comfort. You can find the recipe here on Jennifer’s site and visit the TWD site to see if the other bakers successfully removed their cakes from the pan.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TWD: Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Tuesdays With Dorie is pretty chocolate-heavy this month, so it was nice to see something bright and citrusy, in the form of Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, in the middle of the month. I made these on Sunday morning, and the only difficult part was waiting for the muffins to cool so they could be glazed! I would recommend not lining your muffin tins for this recipe, as my glaze dripped on them a bit. I subbed in plain nonfat yogurt for the sour cream and don’t think the texture suffered tremendously. Okay, they probably would have been a bit richer and softer with it, but I still thought they were a nice treat.

Since Josh consumed the majority of the muffins, I asked him for a Deliciousness rating and he said 7 (enjoyed them, though probably won’t request them again) and I gave the recipe a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.8. A big thank you to Betsy of A Cup of Sweetness for a lovely January selection. You can find the recipe here on Betsy’s site and click over to the TWD site for more muffins.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TWD: Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

This week it’s my turn (!!!) to select the Tuesdays With Dorie recipe and I think I managed to choose the only recipe in the book that involves marshmallow crème, Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines. I bought some madeleine pans around the same time I bought Baking (guess which I’ve used more often?), so this is one of the first recipes I put on my “to-make” list and I’m glad that it was still available when it was my turn to host. I must confess that when I was a teenager, my stepsister and I used to eat marshmallow fluff straight from the jar and I still love the stuff. I think this is a slightly more dignified way to eat it. Josh thought it was nice that I made something that looked like a football the weekend of the play-offs.

Though I haven’t used the pans very often, I’ve noticed that some madeleine recipes call for the batter to be chilled before baking and some do not. Dorie explains that chilling the batter increases your chance of the madeleines having their characteristic hump. It always is a good way to separate the work of a recipe over the course of two days, which I am a fan of. After an overnight chill, this batter was very thick and baked up huge madeleines!

One culinary skill I can use some work at is piping, I am always kind of a mess with a piping bag. I wasn’t able to get as much fluff in the madeleines as I would have liked. Maybe I’m just a glutton, but if anyone has suggestions for getting more filling in madeleines or cupcakes, I would be happy to hear them. I am not complaining about the chocolatiness of this recipe, though! Alone, the madeleines may have been good, but a bit ordinary; however, coated in chocolate ganache they are absolutely fantastic!

We rated this recipe an 8 for Deliciousness and I gave it a 4 for Effort, for an EDR of 2. A huge thank you to all the fabulous bakers who baked along with me this week. Every Tuesday I look forward to seeing the creations this incredibly talented group comes up with and am constantly inspired to try new things; I can’t wait to see all the fluffy goodness this week.

Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines, from pages 170-171 of Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the Madeleines

2/3 cup all-purpose flour (3.375 ounces)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (.75 ounces)

½ teaspoon baking powder
inch of salt 2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup sugar (3.5 ounces)
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Marshmallow Fluff, for filling and frosting

For the Dip

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

To make the Madeleines
: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract, then switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the sifted dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days. Chilling the batter gives you a better chance of getting the characteristic hump on the back of the cookies.

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour, and tap out the excess. Butter and flour or spray the pan even if it is nonstick; skip this step if you are using a silicone pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter into the molds.

Place the pan in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, or until they feel springy to the touch. Remove the pan from the oven and rap one side of the madeleine pan against the counter – the plump little cakes should come tumbling out. Gently pry any reluctant cookies out with your fingers or a butter knife. Cool to room temperature on a rack.

To Fill the Madeleines: Fit a small pastry bag with a small plain tip and spoon the fluff into the bag. Use the point of the tip to poke a hole in the rounded (plain) side of each madeleine, and pipe enough fluff into each cookie to fill it – stop when the fluff reaches the top of the cake. (You’ll use only a bit of fluff.)

To Make the Dip: Put the chocolate in a small deep heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil, then pour it over the chocolate. Wait for 1 minute, then gently whisk the cream into the chocolate: start at the center and slowly work your way out in concentric circles until you have a smooth, shiny mixture. Gently whisk in the butter. Line a small baking sheet with wax paper. One by one, hold a madeleine at its narrow end and dip it into the chocolate, then lift it up, let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and place smooth side down on the wax paper. Slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator to set the glaze, about 15 minutes. (You’ll have more ganache than you need, but making a larger quantity produces a better ganache. The leftover dip can be covered and refrigerated for 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.) If you’d like, pipe a squiggle of fluff on the top of each madelein once the chocolate is set. Makes 12 Cookies.

: Coffee or every variety, milk, and hot chocolate are all good companions.
Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple days, the madeleines should be eaten soon after they are made. However, wrapped airtight, they can be frozen – even after they’ve been filled and frosted – for up to 2 months. And stale madeleines, as Proust would be the first to tell you, are good for dunking.

Playing Around: Use the same poke-and-pipe technique to fill the madeleines with raspberry jam, lemon curd – homemade (page 462) or store-bought – or Nutella.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

SMS: Hazelnut Raspberry Layer Cake

Sweet Melissa Sundays are back with cake! Hazelnut Raspberry Layer Cake, to be precise. I’m surprised this recipe hadn’t been selected yet and it’s a great way for the group to begin 2011. My birthday was Wednesday and Josh is planning on making me a cake and I briefly considered letting this be my birthday cake since I thought it sounded so good, but decided to “save” my special cake for a later date. And don’t worry – we celebrated with cupcakes on my actual birthday!

There is a raspberry icing recipe in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes that I absolutely love (and so does everyone who tries it), so I thought about using that and then decided I should try the recipe in the Sweet Melissa book. However, the original recipe called for a mixture of whole raspberries and raspberry liqueur to be mixed in and the idea of whole raspberry seeds in the frosting was kind of off-putting to me. I saw Tracey had made a whole raspberry-free frosting and was inspired to stick with my initial instinct and eliminate them as well. I used a scant half cup of seedless raspberry preserves for the raspberry flavor and color, which essentially made it like recipe I usually make. Oh, and Melissa’s recipe does not specify to let the egg/white sugar syrup combination cool down before you add the butter (the syrup is 240 degrees when it goes in), but I recommend chilling it briefly before adding the butter.

We rated this recipe an 8.5 for Deliciousness and I gave it a 4.5 for Effort (it may have been slightly higher if I’d had to ice the cake, but Josh was nice enough to do it for me), for an EDR of 1.88. Many thanks to Candy of Candy Girl for a delicious selection. You can find the recipe here on Candy's site and visit the Sweet Melissa site to see how the rest of the group liked this cake.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ABC: Eve Lieb's Processor Challah

This month the Avid Bakers Group took on the challenge of making a yeast bread, Eve Lieb's Processor Challah. Have you ever been so excited to eat something you made that you have trouble waiting for it to cool? That’s how I felt about this bread! Luckily I had to snap some photographs of it for my blog post, so we averted burnt tongues. I put off making this bread until Friday, and was wondering if I would have time to fit in, but when I read the recipe I realized the dough comes together incredibly fast in the food processor (with a minute of kneading by hand afterward) and both the rising and baking times were relatively short.

I delegated the bread-braiding to Josh. Whenever we have garlic knots for dinner (which I’m sure Josh would tell you is far too infrequently), he is the one who does that knot-work, so I figured he would be able to take on larger strands of dough. I printed a guide for him from this post on the King Arthur Flour blog and I think he did a spectacular job. We enjoyed this fluffy bread warm with butter, as well as cold with cheese. I loved the crunch the poppy seeds added.

We rated this recipe an 8 for Deliciousness and 4 for Effort, for an EDR of 2. We do not post the recipes for this group. The recipe is on page 184 of Baking for All Occasions, and you can read about the other ABC bakers’ experience with it via the Avid Baker’s Challenge site.

TWD: Midnight Chocolate Crackles

Tuesdays With Dorie is kicking off 2011, and the third anniversary of the group, with Midnight Chocolate Crackles. The recipes for January were announced in mid-December, and if you happen to be the organized type, these chocolaty, mildly spiced cookies would have been a terrific addition to a holiday cookie tray. Naturally, I didn’t get around to making them until after Christmas, so they have been an oh-so-tempting snack to have around the house. In general, I think I’m pretty good about not overindulging in the treats I make. However, I have been on vacation since Christmas Eve (and therefore been home with the cookie jar calling my name) and in that time, my cookie consumption has gone way up, my fruit intake has gone way down, and I have eaten more than my share of these cookies. I have to say one good thing about the staycation coming to an end is that I will get back to my normal eating schedule.

There was much discussion on the Problems and Questions section of the TWD site about the proper amount of chilling time and texture of this cookie dough. I’m not sure if it would have worked to form the cookies straight away, since the dough was a bit warm and greasy when it was first made, but even a short rest in the refrigerator made it hard – must be high chocolate content in the dough. All was forgiven for a cookie this delicious, though. Josh assumed the cookies were to be rolled in powdered sugar, as most chocolate crackle cookies are. I did roll some, but they didn’t turn out terribly pretty. They were the first to get eaten.

This recipe rated an 8 for Deliciousness and a 3.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.28. A huge thank you to Laurie of Slush and Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen for selecting this recipe and keeping the group organized! You can find the recipe here on the TWD site, as well as see more crackly cookies via the Leave Your Link section.