Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daring Bakers July 2011 - Mango Fraisier

Blog Checking Lines - Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

I love making new desserts and that is one of the main reasons that I joined Daring Bakers. This Fraisier for example is something I would have never made or eaten if not for this challenge. I originally wanted to make the classic version with strawberries but since strawberries are not native to this place they are very expensive and even after paying so much I will never get plump, ripe strawberries. So I decided to go with  mangoes and I can say that it was a great pairing. Though I must say that Alphonso Mangoes would be simply stunning in this dessert. I am very picky when eating mangoes and eat only a few varieties. For this cake I used a Pakistani variety and it was a little too sweet for me. Next time I will surely use Alphonso or something similar.

It was great fun making the chiffon cake and everything went smoothly. I got a perfect cake even though I baked it in a regular 9 inch cake pan. I couldn't find the bottom of my spring form pan and was scared that the cake would not turn out well. To support the sides of the cake pan I attached my spring form ring to the upper edge of my cake pan. That gave good height to the pan and the cake rose very well.

I must confess here that I was not very happy with the whole process of making the pastry cream. It was too long and in the end it didn't even taste like pastry cream but more like whipped cream (very delicious though!). I am not sure if it is supposed to taste like that or not. Next time I will try another simpler recipe.

The whole thing took me about 4 hours to complete from start to finish, though each component can be made separately and stored in the fridge for assembly later on.

I decided not to use the almond paste layer as the fruit, cake and cream were already too sweet. I added some cocoa powder and grated dark chocolate to balance the sweetness in the dessert. Latif loved the dessert and gobbled an entire piece in seconds!


For The Basic Chiffon Cake
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (155 gm) All-purpose Flour
1 Tsp (4 gm) Baking Powder
3/4 Cups (170 Gms) Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Egg Yolks
1/4 Cup + 1 tablespoon Water
1 Tsp (5 ml) Vanilla Essence
3/4 Tsp Grated Lemon Zest
5 Large Egg Whites
1/4 Tsp Cream of Tarter

For the Simple Syrup
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Water

For The Pastry Cream Filling
1 Cup Whole Milk 
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence 
1/8 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Cornflour (Cornstarch in U.S)
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
3/4 Tsp Gelatin
1/2 Tbsp Water
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Make the Chiffon Cake
1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
2. Line the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan. (I used a regular cake pan and attached the spring form ring to it)
3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
6. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
7. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
10. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Make The Simple Syrup 
1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
4. Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Make the Pastry Cream
1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
8. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
11. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
12. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

For Fraisier Assembly
1 Baked 9 inch Chiffon Cake
1 Recipe Pastry Cream Filling
1/3 Cup Simple Syrup
4 Large Alphonso Mangoes (Peeled and Sliced - 1/2 inch thick and 4 inch long)
Cocoa Powder For Dusting
Chocolate Curls for Decoration

1. Line the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
4. Arrange the mango slices around the sides of the cake pan.
5. Place 1 Cup of cream in the center and using an offset spatula push it against the mangoes in the side and spread a thin layer across the top of the cake.
6. Chop the remaining mango pieces (reserve few for decoration) (use all the flesh from the seed) and spread it on the cream. Cover the mangoes entirely with the all but 1/4 Cup of the pastry cream.
7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8. Spread the remaining 1/4 Cup of pastry cream on the top of the cake and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Decorate with chocolate curls and mango slices as desired.
9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Happy Eating!! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Caramel Banana Cake

I watched the final Harry Potter movie yesterday (The movie was playing from Tuesday in the UAE) and it's like the end of an era. I am a big fan of the books and have read each book at least 10 times (No, I am not kidding). I just love the way the books are written and every time you read it you feel like you are reading something new. Whenever I was bored at home I used to pick a book read it in one sitting. When any of the movies came out I would always come back from the theatre and read that part just to compare the book with the script. No matter how good the movie is, it can never compare to the actual story in the book. I feel people who have not read the book and have only watched the movie are missing out on so many details .

Sadly yesterday I didn't come home and open the last part to read as all my books are back home in India. But what I came home to was the amazing smell of freshly baked banana cake. I had some ripe bananas (as usual) in the fruit basket and needed to make a cake.  I would have gone with my favorite recipe but I didn't have enough butter in the house and searched for a new recipe. I had seen this on I am Baker and decided to give it a go. This is a very moist cake full of flavor.  However, I will still make the other recipe next time (the streusal topping makes me go weak in the knees!)

I did not make the caramel sauce and used the nestle caramel topping instead. I started making the cake at 7 and didn't realize that it needs one full hour to bake. After it went into the oven at 7:45 pm I had to leave for the movie at 8:15. I panicked and didn't know what to do as I could not leave my gas oven on and also did not have any timer.  Hubby said "you either sacrifice the cake or the movie". I almost cried but then saw my microwave. Ting!!  Removed the cake from the gas oven and put it in the microwave on convection at 155 Celsius for 40 minutes and left the house with a big prayer. Tada!! I came home to a perfectly baked cake.

Recipe Source - The Kitchn via I am Baker

Ingredients (Makes 1 nine inch round cake, this is half of the original recipe)

6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup (6 Tbsp) White Sugar
1/2 Cup (6 Tbsp) Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups All purpose Flour
3/4 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Milk 
3/4 Cup Mashed Bananas
1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Walnuts
3/4 Cup Caramel Sauce (I used Nestle Caramel Topping)
1. Preheat oven to 165 degree C (325 degree F). Grease one 9 inch round pan.
2. Place the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Keep aside.
3. Mix the milk with the mashed bananas in a separate bowl.
4. Beat the butter and sugars in a bowl until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
5. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk mixture in three parts, mixing until just combined.
6. Add the walnuts and mix.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Pour the caramel sauce in the middle and swirl around with a knife.
8. Place in oven and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Happy Eating!!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bake Me Some Baklava

O.K. I know I have been missing for a long time from here but I do have some pretty good excuses. An operation, a house move, some house guests and an additional role at work have all kept me very, very busy the past few months. But now that I am recovered (almost) and settled in my new home (again, almost!) I have decided to pay more attention to my blog. This is a fantastic new dish that I tried, which is also the last thing that I baked in my old house (I love you my old kitchen, you will always be my first love!)

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

After missing the last two daring bakers challenges I was determined to at least attempt this one. I must say that I absolutely LOVE baklava. And I have eaten my fair share of it here in the middle east. Give me a box and I can polish it off entirely by myself (I have been known to have self control issues). So I was really excited to try making it myself. Because I could not stand on my feet for long after my operation, I knew rolling and kneading copious amounts of dough was out of the question. So I had to resort to store bought phyllo. Boy oh Boy! Did the dough give me a tough time! This was the first time I ever made Baklava or handled the store bought dough. The sheets just would not separate easily and I almost had a patchwork of sheets in my baking tray. But the end result was well worth the time and energy spent on it.

Most of this baklava was eaten by Latifs friends and one of them said that it was irresistible! Ah , music to a bakers ears! Before making the baklava I watched Alton Browns video from the Good Eats show and I I fell in love with that guy. He is so funny and explains so many things about the dish. As I did not make the phyllo from scratch I mixed and matched the given challenge recipe with Alton Browns recipe.

Check the Daring Bakers Website for the recipe and don't miss the great video of Alton Brown making baklava.
Switched On Baklava Part I
Switched On Baklava Part II

Happy Eating!!