Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alhambra Cake

I know that Alhambra is a city near Pasadena, CA, now, I also know that Alhambra is also one of the classic cakes. This cake can be summed up in 3 words - Chocolate Lover's Delight. It is also a cousin of Sacher Torte. I personally like the Alhambra better. The components for this cake include - hazelnut sponge cake, 8'' (in this case), coffe rum syrup, chocolate glaze, pistachios, chopped and toasted, and marzipan shaped roses. This cake is very rich, so a small slice can fill you up. Based on the reviews I got on this cake, it's definitely worth the time and the effort.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Carrot Cake

People either love or hate this cake. For people that hate this cake, they mainly do so because they cannot imagine eating a vegetable for dessert. Me, on the other hand, grew up eating carrots as a dessert item, so I was excited to discover and of course, eat the carrot cake. I was greatly excited to make this cake for some reason, I have never been happier making a dessert. Anyhow, the cake turned out great. I liked it and the people that tried it liked it.

Carrot Cake
Recipe Source - California School of Culinary Arts (CSCA)

Bread Flour 9 oz
Baking Powder 1/4 tsp
Baking Soda 3/4 tsp
Cinnamon, Ground 1 and 1/2 tbsp
Nutmeg, grated fresh to taste
Ground Ginger to taste
Salt, Kosher 1/2 tsp

Sugar, granulated 14 oz
Oil, vegetable 6 oz
eggs, whole 4 each

carrots, peeled and grated 1 lb
walnut pieces (toasted) 2.5 oz

Prepare a 10'' cake pan. Spray the bottom, line with parchment and spray lightly on top.
Using a paddle attachment in an electric mixer bowl whip together sugar + oil + eggs. Next dry ingredients - sift flour + baking powder + baking soda + cinnamon + nutmeg + ginger + salt on a parchment paper. After the eggs mixture is emulsified add flour to the mixture all at once and mix till only 'til everything is blended. Take the mixture off the stand and add carrots and walnut pieces. Once everything is well mixed, add the batter to the cake pan. and bake at 325 F in the oven until the center comes out clean when skewer tested. It takes approximately 1.5 hrs to bake it.

For Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe Source - CSCA

Butter, unsalted, softened 16 oz
Sugar, powdered 16 0z
Cream Cheese, softened 1lb 8 oz
Vanilla extract 1 tbsp

In an electric stand mixture cream together butter and sugar. Add cream cheese and mix well. Add the vanilla extract. Be careful to not cream too much. The icing should be smooth and still be pliable as oppose to melty and runny.

Gingerbread Cookies

I know these aren't nearly close to being a decent gingerbread cookies in terms of the decoration, but let me tell you, these cookies are very close to being the perfect gingerbread cookies when it comes to their taste. They also happen to be my favorite holiday cookie. I guess I have a soft spot for all things spicy. These cookies have a lot of character to them despite their cardboardy and somewhat homely appearence. These cookies were pretty easy to put together and I actually have a recipe that I can include, so here you go:

Recipe Source -California School of Culinary Arts (CSCA)

8 oz butter
7 oz sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
18 oz flour
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp ginger
2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnmaon
3/4 tsp b soda
1/2 tsp salt

Creamed method..cream butter, sugar and eggs. Add molasses, scrape down sides. Sift all dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture. Dough will be somewhat stiff. Turn out a plastic wrap, flatten and chill over night. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut and bake at 350 for about 10 mins. Do not overbake.

Dobos Torte

Dobos Torte is a hungarian cake, pronounced "Dobosh Torta" is named after the cakes resemblence of a drum machine. The cake was a great fun to make; however, assembling the caramel wedges on the top of the cake takes some tact. The 4 main components of this cake include: the Dobos sponge, chocolate french buttercream, caramel and brandy simple syrup in which each layer of sponge is soaked.

This cake is not easy to whip up and takes some planning and involves great deal of work to assemble, so I'm not sure if I will make this cake again. It is served best at room tempreture.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Definitely Delicious Candy

It's become my nightly ritual to checkout various food blogs and scope out recipes to try. Well..last night as I stumbled up this recipe as I was reading this article inBon Appetit magazine. I have to be honest, this wasn't one of those recipes where I laid my eyes on the picture and felt the definite urge to make the recipe. As I continued reading the article, my interest grew..out of curiosity, and I swear it always starts this way, I checked out the recipe for this and I saw that aside from the pecans, I had all the ingredients. Then I proceeded to look at the method to make this recipe and I saw that aside from toasting the pecans, there was no baking-in-the-oven involved. I thought it was doable. The heading description for this recipe describes this candy as "a cross between praline and fudge"...that definitely added to the allure of this. But what sold me on this was reading this post on the columnist Molly Wizenberg's Orangette blog.

A few years back, my co-worker had given me a tin packed with fudge for holidays and to this day, it has been a memorable gift. This recipe definitely brought back that memory and the idea of reciprocating her this year with a similar gift but different homemade candy sounded further exciting. Then I thought of a few other people with whom I can share this with during holidays. So at that point it was a done deal. I had to make this recipe.

I didn't know I would be making this recipe this quickly. But I did...and I am absolutely pleased with the results. This candy brings back the memories with the flavors such as - butter pecan and pecan praline.

Just one note on the recipe - I found that it's best to buy whole Pecans and toast it yourself. I toasted it for 10-12 mins at 350F. Cooled them and just broke the whole pecans into semi medium pieces. You have the link to the recipe and hope you try it as well. It's easy to make and it's taste is definitely sweet and addicting.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Forest Cake

This blog is going to turn into a lovely cakes galore in the next few weeks as we bake some classic cakes. The black forest cake officially inaugurated this module. Based on what I have observed, a lot of people, including myself are not much into cherries in the cake. Even I didn't want to have anything to do with this cake when I saw another student a few months back, bring in this cake. However, now that I have made this cake myself and seen what goes into it, I have a much better appreciation for the cake. The 3 main components of this cakes are, the devil's food cake, the kirsch flavored chantilly cream and cherries. I need to get better at slicing the cake. Based on the above'd think there are only 2 slices, however, the cake is actually cut into 3 slices and luckily, I was able to better capture that in the picture below:

This picture is of the cake as it came out of the freezer and I took those slices to work and everyone enjoyed it very much. I, despite, being the 'cherry hater in the cakes' think it's a pretty impressive cake and worth the effort. I'll definitely be making sure that I'll give a slice of it to everyone that is a sweet lover like me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake w/ Caramelized Butter Frosting - Daring Bakers November Challenge

This month's Daring Bakers November host was Dolores and the co hosts included Alex and Jenny. They picked Shuna Fish Lydon's signature caramel cake for the challenge. Three main components of the this cake are: the caramel syrup, the cake and the frosting. I decided to break the work down between three days. I made the caramel syrup first.

Caramel syrup in this case, is the end result of cooking sugar with water. This may seem easy, but I have messed up this process by crystallizing the sugar when I had to cramelize sugar for Creme Caramel. I learned my lession and this time around, I did not mess with the sugar and let it cook until it reached a dark amber color. Both the cake and the frosting calls for the use of this syrup. Once I got the syrup done, everything else was easy. Now that I've made the cake, I can say that I wished I would've cooked the syrup further to give it a more richer amber color. I made the Caramel Syrup on Monday of the week of Thanksgiving and finished the cake on Tuesday before work. I didn't think I'd be done until Thursday, I guess the motivation to try the cake got me to finish early. I took it to work so that I can try it with my co-workers. I was hoping that I'd save it for Thanksgiving day, but the cake was long gone. My first insticts were the frosting was too sweet...but then I had a taste of it with the cake and I was like not bad, then I had another bite and I was like..hmm..good and then after a few more bites I was sold on this cake. This cake is definitely worth all the mess caramel syrup leaves for me to clean up. I loved the flavor caramel brought to the cake and as for the frosting, the caramelized butter frosting added further to the richness of the cake and made it one of the most unique tasting frosting I've had on a cake. I LOVED the cake and can't wait to make it again.
If you are interested in the recipe source, you can refer to this link and to learn more about the author - Shuna Fish Lydon and see more of her wonderful creations, please check out her blog at eggbeater.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chocolate Souffle

Souffle is truly a baking marvel - to watch the little ramekin filled batter rise above it's capacity in a completely neat upward manner is trully amazing to me. Souffles are served hot. The end result is suppose to be a moist (not dry) center that is not too sweet in flavor. When I dug into one of them, my reaction was just of a meh..maybe I had higher expectations or maybe I wanted it to be more sweeter. In any case, it's worth making it over again for its looks and the Pumpkin Souffle recipe in the latest Gourmet issue looks quite mouth watering...yumm!

Black Currant Mousse Cake

I love the different shades of purple presented in this cake, but it is pretty involved process to make this cake. I don't think I will be making this again. But while I made, I thought I'd do a post on it so you can enjoy the pleasing shades of purple as much as I did :)

Three Chocolate Bavarian

This cake was fun to make. It's another one of those gelatin set custard cakes that gets completed magically sitting in the freezer. I love the idea of bringing together the dark chocolate, milk chocolate and the white chocolate and then topping it off with more chocolate. My sister took this cake to work and she seems to have enjoyed it along with her co-worker who raved about it.

Charlotte Royale

This by far is the prettiest looking dessert I have created in class. Charlotte Royale is a gelatin set custard cake. Two main components of a Charlotte include the Vanilla Bavarian Cream and the sponge cake (it's the sponge cake roulade here in case of Charlotte Royale).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Bread

I love most everything pumpkin. I happened to pick up a newsletter by mayo clinic and to my delight I came across this recipe on Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bread. Next I looked the list of ingredients and the more I read, the more I knew it was the recipe that I cannot just forego without baking it atleast once. What sold me on this recipe was Buttermilk. I had my first memorable experience with buttermilk when I made this cake. It is my absolute favorite cake and I was convinced that buttermilk did the trick in giving it that moistness. So I baked the pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe. I was the checkout counter with my pumpkin puree and the lady at the register assumed I was making pumpkin pie. I told her that yes, pumpkin pie, but first the pumpkin bread and she was like oh..great..with walnuts! And she that's when she put that ingredient into my mind and I thought, hmm...what if I added the walnuts to the chocolate will that turn out. Well..I experimented with adding a 1/4 cup of walnuts to the recipe and it did not disappoint me. The bread came out absolutely great and perfectly moist...just how I like it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Bread
Adapted from Mayo Clinic Newsletter

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1and1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 T canola oil
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and coat with flour. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin puree, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil together. Add the flour to the pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moistened (do not overmix). Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix until evenly distributed throughout the batter. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 mins and turn out onto a cooling rack. Serves 16.

In case you were curious, I happened to also have the nutrional analysis for this recipe.

Nutritional analysis per serving: calories 130, fat 2.5 g, saturated fat 1 g, trans fat 0 g, carbohydrate 26g, cholesterol 15 mg, sodium 190 mg, fiber 2g

Paris Brest

Paris Brest is a French pastry created to commemorate the bicycle race from the city of Paris, France to the city of Brest, France. This was definitely a memorable and fun pastry I've baked so far. The idea is to create a pastry that resembles the shape of a bicycle tire. There are three components to making it - 1) pate a choux, 2) praline pastry cream, 3) creme chantilly. The pate a choux is baked first. Once it is cooled, the top 1/3 or of it cut off and the bottom creates a cavity where the praline pastry cream is piped first and then the chantily creme is piped on top of the praline. The top 1/3 of the pate a choux is sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with chocolate swirls, which is then cut into equal pieces which gets put on top of the creams. It tastes great and definitely very fun to make.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pana Cotta

We made Pana Cotta in class the other day. The best part is it's easy to make and fun to setup and decorate. This dessert hardly leaves any room for you to mess it up. I look at this dessert as a creamier version of the american Jell-O. It's made by simmering milk and cream together with sugar and mixing gelatin into the mixture. It's then put into the Dariole moulds and chilled to allow the gelatin to set the custard. I didn't get to try the dessert since I am not a fan of gelatin. But I'm sure it's yummy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Food

I love the fall season for many reason - one being the cooler weather and second is halloween. We were having a Halloween party at my co-worker's place and I decided to make the Pumpkin Cheesecake bars. My coworker had emailed me the recipe for them awhile back when I didn't bake. Now that I have started baking, I thought it would make a perfect addition to the Halloween food table. I made my version with a Gingerbreak Cake and Baking mix instead of the pound cake mix and I used chopped almonds to garnish with on top. I can actually post the recipe for this dessert, yay!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
by Jacki Brown

1 (160z) pound cake mix
3 eggs
2 tbs. melted butter
4 tsp pumpkin spice (or nutmeg, cloves and ground ginger)
1 (8 0z) cream cheese, softened
1(14 oz) can Eagle sweetened condensed milk
1(160z) can pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chooped nuts (or sliced almonds)
Grease bottom of a 10x13 pan. Combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter, 2 tsp spice on low speed only until crumbly. Press on bottom of pan.
Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk, 2 eggs, pumpkin, 2 tsp spice and salt. Mix well. Pour over crust. Sprinkle nuts over the top. Bake 30-35 mins at 350. Cool. Chill. Cut into bars.

Our main course dish included a Roasted Butternut squash pastina served in a pumpkin. This recipe is great to make - once a year. I find it very involved and time consuming and every time I have made it, I have done it with help of one other person. In the end, the efforts are well worth it. So if you are interested, you can check out the recipe here.

Creme Brulee with Pot de Creme

I started my fifth module which is on International Patisserie, Custards, Fillings and Creams. The class started out with us making the Creme Brulee, Pot de Creme au chocolat and Creme Caramel. On the right is the picture of creme brulee and pot de creme right out of the oven. The creme caramel was still baking in the oven while I took this picture. They were cooling on the rack to be reached to room tempreture, and then they went into the fridge to be chilled and allow the custard time to set overnight. We torched the Brulee the next day. This was my second time making creme brulee and it still remains one of my favorite custards. It was my first time tasting the pot de creme au chocolate and they did not cease to please me. Its a nice rich creamy chocolate flavor with a hint of coffee flavor that was infused while making them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Baker's October Challenge - Baking Pizza

This month's challenge was to bake a pizza. I decided to make this pizza when I was hosting a potluck with my coworkers. We made about 7 pizza pies between the 6 of us with variety of sauces and toppings. I made the basic marinara sauce, pesto sauce and alfredo sauce. We had toppings that included - mushrooms, onions, pepperoni, habanero, sage, jalapenos, olives and feta cheese.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tres Leches Cake

I found myself watching a Good Eats episode titled 'Milk Made' on the YouTube one night, and featured on it was the "Tres Leches Cake". According to Alton, Tres Leches Cake is as American as the Apple Pie itself. Needless, to say, that episode left me with an extreme desire to try Alton Brown's Tres Leches cake recipe. I was going to have a few friends over for a potluck and decided it would be a perfect time to make this cake.
As you may have figured already, I have never had a tres leches cake prior to this baking experience so I didn't know what to expect. However, my sweet tooth and mouth can tell a good cake from a bad. This cake is perfectly moist, rich and every bit of it leaves you with a greater satisfaction. The cake itself is easy to make and I definitely encourage you to try it. The recipe itself can be found here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Croissants and Pain Au Chocolat

The traditional croissant (left) is made in a similar manner as the other two laminated doughs - danish and puff pastry. Croissant dough however is yeasted unlike the puff pastry. The resulting flakes in the croissants are due to the butter incorporation in the dough, rolling it and resting several times. Pain Au Lait is a croissant with chocolate filling.

Apple Strudel

We made the apple strudel with the phyllo dough. Up until now, I have never seen the unbaked phyllo dough sheets. It turns out that these fragile things (aka..phyllo dough) are very thinly fragile sheets of dough made out of water, flour and salt. We took layered 5 of those phyllo dough sheets with butter and sugar. Then we added the apple filling, which comprises of 1 inch peeled, cored and diced apple pieces sauted in melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. We also added graham cracker crumbs and ground toasted pistachio nuts. Once the filling is on the laminated phyllo sheets, we roll it and bake it until golden brown and the result is what i got above. It's relatively easy and quick to make.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Velvet Cake

After eating this cake, I am in love with the Red Velvet Cake. I was completely against using food coloring, but I made an exception for this cake. The cake turned out well moist, with a hint of cocoa. Every bite left me with wanting more of it. The cream cheese icing definitely makes this cake complete with it's perfect taste. It is worth all the effort put into it. Great cake from a great recipe that I plan to reuse when I make my next red velvet goodness.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The local library was planning to have a bake sale and I thought what could be more better than making Red Velvet cupcakes. I remember trying them first a few years back and just didn't understand the big deal with them. But recently I spotted a Red Velvet cake at a wedding and have been dying to make it. I compared several recipes before I decided to make it based on the repressed pastry chef recipe for the cupcakes and the cream cheese icing. I also made a red velvet cake based on the recipe, but trippling the original cupcake batter and the icing. More to come on the Red Velvet Cake in the next post, since I deserve an attention of its own!

Cinnamon Rolls

Since I made these cinnamon rolls, I have been eating one each day for breakfast and I am still not tired of them. They are absolutely great. Love the cinnamon sugar and the cream cheese frosting. Looking at it , I could've perhaps baked it a little more to brown futher, but I think they were great just they way they turned out.

Maple Pecan Sticky Bun

Maple Pecan Sticky Bun was fun to bake and eat. The bread used here is the same used for cinnamon rolls. The difference here is the filling, we used finely chopped pecans along with hazelnut meal, brown sugar and maple syrup. It is rolled in the similar way as cinnamon rolls are, but it is assembeled in a 10'' pan where the rolls sit next to each other starting in the middle and placing them around the center. Before the buns are placed in the pan, it is assembled first with pecans and honey glaze and after it is baked it is turned upside down and hence the results are apparent in the picture with glazed pecan ending up on the top. We made cinnamon rolls and these buns together. While making it, I figured I love everything that goes into making this, I will like it perhaps more than cinnamon rolls, but after tasting both the cinnamon rolls and the maple pecan sticky bun, the cinnamon rolls win.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Danish Pastry

Danish pastry is made out of a laminated dough with layers of flaky butter crust. The technique to make the Danish pastry is similar to making the puff pastry, however the Danish pastry uses yeast as a leavener.
Four basic shapes of Danish Pastry inlcude - (from top left to right) - turnovers, pinwheels, envelopes and frames. The fillings used here is raspberry. Some other filling choices inclue - lemon cheese, pastry cream and almond cream.


We ended the first Breads module with making Brioche. We even got tested on knowing how to make them. In the Laminated Doughs module, we revisit them. The Brioche s pictured on the left is in its most classically recognized form - a tete. Due to it's high butter and fat content from eggs, it can be considered a pastry item. Keeping the a tetes intact is a challenge and have to use the right shaping technique before putting them into the oven. This is the best of the Brioches I have created so far and can't wait to gobble 'em up tomorrow with my freshly made aji sauce. Also, every time I have made this bread, I have wanted to set aside some of it to make it into a bread-pudding with Creme Anglaise. One of these days, I will get there.


I tried my first Palmiers from Trader Joe's. I was pleasently delighted with the crispy buttery cookie and how well it went with my tea and while I had them in supply, it was my perfect breakfast.
I was very excited when I learned that we will be making them. We used the Puff Pastry which we made ourselves from scratch (a.ka. Classic Puff Pastry) to shape them and create them. They are easy to make and I would definitely love to make these again.


Pithivier is a classic French Pastry originating from the town Pithiviers, France. We used the Classic Puff Pastry dough to make the bottom and top crusts. The pie is enclosed with almond cream.. I definitely enjoyed making this pastry and my family loved eating it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fruit Band with Puff Pastry

Last week I started a new module which covers baking with Laminated Doughs. One of the first things we made was a Puff Pastry from scratch, also known as the Classic Puff Pastry. However to make the Fruit Band on left, we used a pre-manufactured Puff Pastry sheet. We cut the sheet in half and layered it with one inch strips of puff pastry. We used egg-wash to layer the strips on top. It was baked until golden brown. The puff pastry formed a band which was filled with pastry cream and topped with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. The Apricot Nappage was applie to provide the finishing touch.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Over Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is the yummies breakfast I've ever had - Chocolate Chip Cookies with Butter Pecan IceCream. The cookies were great and ice-cream even better.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yogurt Granola Parafait

I used to be a big fan of Alton Brown and his Good Eats show back in the day when I used to watch the food network. Since I started this blog and following the repressed pastry chef blog, I rediscovered him and the Good Eats. I currently don't own a tv set, but having a computer, You Tube allowed me the luxury to catch up with couple of the Good Eats episodes. I happened to watch the 'Good Milk Gone Bad' episode. Featured in it was a home made yogurt recipe. I followed the Alton Brown recipe to make it myself and the result was a yogurt that not only looked good, but tasted great too. The recipe for the yogurt can be found here.
Ever since I made the yogurt, I was in search for some granola. To my joy, the 'Oats Cuisine' episode of the Good Eats featured a simple and quick reicpe for the granola which I made above. Take some of the granola and combine that with the homemade yogurt and top it off with the granola and wallaahh!'ve got the perfect Yogurt Granola Parafait! The yogurt and the granola recipe is something that I will definitely use over and over again for years to come.

Lemon Madelines

I have seen Starbucks sell the Madelines. Glancing over them at the Starbucks counter, I thought of them to be crunchy cookies. I have been tempted to try them at Starbucks, but I've never had. So when I learned that I will be making them, it was exciting and couldn't wait to make them. Now that I've made it, I learned that they are not crunchy, but a spongy cake. This is the first cake where we used the technique to heat the butter to the point where it is nutty brown and take it off the heat and then fold it into the batter. The end product is the shells with yellowish nutty brown color and it's finished off with the shifted powdered sugar. Overall, not bad for a spongy cake all by itself.

Petit Fours

Petit fours are small cakes and cookies served as part of a large buffet. Petit four is a french terms which translates to small oven. Yesterday, I finished my 'Basic Patisserie techniques' class. The petit fours pictured on the left were part of the sweet table setting. In the picture, from top to bottom, include: 1) Linzer Cookies with raspberry filling, 2) Florentines, 3) Batons Marechaux, 4) Petit Four Glace.
Linzer cookies, which I have written before here. It baked for slightly longer and therefore, more browned than necessary. The Florentines turned out well. The chocolate coating gave it a nice touch. The Batons Marechaux were also not bad. Despite the impression of it being curchy, it is more on the chewy side. It's topped with sliced almonds and the bottoms are coated with bitter-sweet chocolate. The Petit Four Glace could use more practice and work. They were also my least favorite to make, due to the tempremental nature of the poured fondant and the fact that the spongey cakes wouldn't stand still.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

This was another item we made as part of the class final. In comparision to the Petit Four and the Opera Cake, this was definitely a breeze to make. The components of this pie include: Oreo cookie crust, chocolate peanut butter pastry cream filling, topped with Chantilly Creme and chocolate flakes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gateau L'Opera

Opera cake was another component of our final exam. The cake comprises of the Joconde Cake, which is an almond sponge cake, layered with coffee french buttercream, chocolate ganache, coffee rum syrup and chocolate glaze. This part of the final was going to take the longest to make, hence the preparations for it started the earliest. Making a sponge cake has always been a chanllenge for me, due to delicacy of the batter and the care it takes in folding it. However, once the sponge is made well, it is a breeze to make the Coffee French Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Rum Syrup. Once all that in place, next is to layer the cake and freeze it until ready to glaze and cut it. After the cake is glazed it goes back in the freezer for the glaze to set before the slices are cut. Slicing this cake into its perfect 2 in. x 2 in. slices is a bit en-nerving for me. But with a chef's knife in hand and a good ruler, this could be accomplished. I still need work in the area of cutting those perfect 2 x 2 slices. Once that is taken care of, the cake is finished with piping the 'L'Opera' and topped with gold leaf. This cake is the traditional form of it, and to my delight, there are variations of these cakes which I of course, found on the repressed pastry chef blog, here. This cake is well worth the work and care that goes into its prepartions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

One of these days, I would love to get to level of Em, Jeanine and Jaime and many other inspiring blogs and in their level of baking, blog postings - (style and frequency), photographing and presenting their work. However, for now, I feel like I'm getting closer as I look at the picture above. Ever since I read the post on the Repressed Pastry Chef about the Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster, and looking at the great picture it made me want to make the cookie with that exact same recipe. However, I was making this on request and it was for Oatmeal Raisin. I also made a variation with cranberries - for the non-raisin lovers. I personally liked them both. I am also excited that I can actually post a recipe for this cookie.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

8 0z Butter or part butter and part shortening
1lb Brown Sugar
1 tsp Salt

4 oz Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 oz Milk

12 oz Pastry Flour or All-Purpose
.5 oz Baking Powder
.5 oz Baking Soda
2 tsp Cinnamon
10 oz Rolled Oats
8 0z Raisins

Method: Cream the butter and sugar and salt together until well blended. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and milk and mix until incorporated well. Add the dry ingredients - Pastry Flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon. And on low speed on the mixer combine oats and raisins until all folded. Use an ice-cream scooper to drop them and freeze them for atleast a few hours before baking them, this will allow the cookie to hold it's shape well and appear fluffy and desirable.