Thursday, January 31, 2008

Caramel Cheesecake

This is a really nice cheesecake. It is smooth, creamy, slightly sweet and rich. The addition of the caramel layer adds a warm almost smoky depth to the cake which can be further enhanced by drizzling some caramel on the cake when it is being served. Very tasty indeed.

Ingredients: Base
1.75 cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbs sugar
½ stick unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients: Cheesecake
2 pounds (4 8oz. boxes) cream cheese at room temp.
1.33 cups sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. scotch
4 large eggs, at room temp
1.33 cups heavy cream
4 oz caramel (see recipe below)

Method: Crust
1.Grease a spring-form pan (9 inch, with sides that are at least 2 inches high). Wrap the bottom of the pan with two layers of foil.
2. Combine the graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a bowl, and then add the butter.
3. Mix the ingredients together with your fingertips, until all the crumbs have been covered with the butter.
3. Place the crumb mixture into the prepared tin, and press into the base and sides of the pan. Do not worry too much about covering up all the sides (the cake becomes stable as it gets colder).
4. Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 350F.
5. Bake the base for 10 min.
6. Place on a wire rack and let it cool.

Method: Cake
1.Reduce the heat in the oven to 325F.
2.Put a full kettle on to boil.
3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the cream cheese for around 4 min at medium speed, periodically scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
4. Beat in the scotch.
5. Add each egg separately making sure to beat the mixture for at least a min between each addition.
6. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and mix in the cream.
7. Place the baking pan, into a roasting tray that is large enough to accommodate the baking pan, and have space around the edges.
8. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and once again mix the batter.
9. remove 2/3 of the batter, and place it in a separate bowl. To the 1/3 left in the mixing bowl add the caramel and beat for a couple of min until it has been combine (make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl).
10. Put 1/3 of the plain batter on top of the crumb base and smooth the top down with a rubber spatula.
11. Add a layer of the caramel batter, and finis with a layer of plain batter, making sure to smooth the top.
12. Place the roasting pan in the oven and add the boiling water to it – making sure that the water comes ½ way up the sides of the pan.
13. Cook the cake for 1 hour and 30 min. The top of the cake may be brown, and the cake may have risen (mine did).
14. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Leave the cake in the oven for another hour.
15. Carefully remove the cake from the oven and let the cheesecake cool to room temp on a wire rack.
16. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours.
17. When ready to serve, get a hair dryer and heat the sides of the pan, gently slip a butter knife between the pan and the cake and remove the cake from the tin.
18. Serve with a drizzle of caramel.

Mostly taken from the amazing “Baking: From my Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan pp. 235-7.

Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Brownies

These were a little tricky to make, and admittedly, although I did use caramel in the recipe, it was quite hard to detect it in the finished product. Still, these were moist, rich brownies.

1.5 cups pecans
2 sticks unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1.5 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1.25 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup of caramel (see caramel post)
1 cup semisweet chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350F and roast the pecans for around 8min. Coarsely chop them.

2. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure that where the handles are for the pan that you go several inches beyond that length. Grease the foil.

3. In a saucepan over medium low heat combine the butter and chocolate, stirring until both are melted the it is of a smooth consistency. Transfer to a large bowl.

4. To the chocolate mixture add the sugar and vanilla mixture and with a whisk, mix until the sugar has been coated by the chocolate.

5. Add the eggs, and whisk for 1-2 min. until thick and glossy.

6. whisk in the flour and salt.

7. Transfer 1/2 the mixture to you pan lined with foil, bake for 20 min.

8. Let cool for 20 min.

9. Stir 1/2 the pecans into the caramel (if the caramel is cold, microwave it in 15 second increments until it is pliable) and spread over the cooled brownie bottom.

10. Pour the remaining brownie batter over the top (once again, if it has become hard, microwave in 15 second increments until it returns to its former consistency).

11. Sprinkle the remaining pecans bits, and the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

12. Bake at 350F for 20 or so min (mine required around 35 min - although I would check at 20min).

13. Cool the brownies completely in the pan, and remove from the pan by grabbing the excess foil from the handle edges.

14. These will keep for around 1 week at room temp.

Taken from :The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes From the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe" by Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman pp. 134-6.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Caramel Cake

This was an easy cake to bake - as long as you subtract the time it took to make the caramel. It is nice and easy, and although a little dry for my taste, the icing was really tasty.

Ingredients: Cake
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
2.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1.33 (1 and 1/3) cups sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup caramel (see previous recipe) combined with 1/2 cup water

Ingredients: Icing
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened 2.5 cups sifted confectioners sugar

Method: Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round baking pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the sugar and butter for around 3 min (on medium speed).
4. Add each of the eggs , and beat between each addition.
5. Divide the dry ingredients into 3. Add one third, and then add 1/3 of the caramel mixture. Continue doing this until both the dry ingredients and the caramel have been used.
6. Divide the batter in two, and place in the two pans. Bake for 25-35 min (check at 25min). It is baked when a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
7. Place on a wire rack and cool for 10 min. Then remove from baking tins and let it cool to room temp.

Method: Icing
1. In a saucepan place the brown sugar, cream and butter. Stir constantly over medium heat and bring it to a boil.
2. Boil for 5 min without stirring.
3. Remove from heat and cool for 20min (if you leave it too long then the icing becomes dry).
4. Add the confectioners sugar and with an electric mixer mix until smooth. If need be add cream to thin.
5. Ice the cake - first between the layers and then on the top and sides.
Taken from "The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook" by J. Appel, p. 26.

Caramel Challenge

Earlier this week I decided that I would make a recipe, without the knowledge that I would have vast quantities of caramel left over, and so this week (or two...) will be my caramel challenge week where I will attempt to use the copious amounts of delicious caramel I made!

1 cup cold water
3 cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream

1. In a medium saucepan add the sugar and water, stir.

2. Turn the stove onto medium low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.

3. Increase the heat to high, and boil without stirring for 15 min. You can dip a pastry brush in cold water and periodically clean the sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Make sure to occasionally swirl the pan to ensure an even browning.

4. Once the syrup turns amber in colour, remove from the heat.

5. Add the cream (it bubbles furiously so beware) and whisk well until the cream is mixed in.

6. Return to medium low heat and stir until smooth (around 1 min).

7. Remove from the heat and let the caramel come to room temperature before refrigerating. This can be stored for 1 month in the fridge.

* Taken from Jennifer Appel's book "The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook" p 108.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Potato-Cinnamon Rolls

These are pretty laborious, but they are good. This recipe makes a heap of rolls (huge ones), but as it is a yeast recipe I don't recommend reducing it (eg. halving it). However, after the second rising you can freeze the rolls for three weeks.

Ingredients: Rolls
2 medium russet potatoes
4 packets dried yeast
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
2 sticks of butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 tsp. salt
9 cups unbleached flour

Ingredients: Pecan/Cinnamon filling
4 cups pecans
4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbs. cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients: Icing
2.5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Method: Rolls
1. Peel and quarter the potatoes and cook for 15-25 min until soft.

2. Setting 3 cups of the potato water aside until it registers 110-115F
3. Mash the potatoes well (either by hand or with a mixer)

4. In a medium bowl combine the cooled potato water, 1 tsp. sugar and the yeast. Whisk together and leave alone for around 5 min.
5. In a large bowl whisk together the potatoes, remaining sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt, and the yeast-potato water.

6. Add the flour, 3 cups at a time and combine with a wooden spoon until all the flour has been mixed in.

7. Place the dough in a large bowl that has had oil rubbed into it.

8. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place until it doubles in size (1-1.5 hours).

9. Punch down the dough in the bowl.

Method: Filling
1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Roast the pecans for 7-9 min, and then roughly chop them up into manageable pieces.

3. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Method: Assembly
1. Remove half the dough and on a clean floured surface roll the half into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle.

2. Spread with half the melted butter.

3. Sprinkle with half the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture and then with half the pecans.

4. Grease two large baking sheets.

5. Starting on the long side of the dough furthest away from you, tightly roll up the dough towards you.

6. With a sharp knife, cut the roll at 2 inch intervals, place each slice (cut side facing down) on the prepared baking trays.

7. At this point you can freeze the dough for 3 weeks making sure that you have covered them tightly with plastic wrap. Simply defrost them overnight in the fridge and then follow with steps 8 and onwards.

8. Set the rolls in a warm place and have them rise again (45 min).

9. Preheat the oven to 375F and bake the rolls for 20-25 min.

Method: Icing
1. Combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a medium bowl (making sure there are no lumps left in the mixture).
2. Spread onto the rolls while they are still a little warm.

Taken from "The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe" by Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman pp.8-10.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Red Velvet Cake (Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr)

I have always wanted to try this cake, and I couldn't find it anywhere. The colour has always fascinated and titillated me - is there a flavor associated with it (raspberry, strawberry?), how do they get that amazing red colour? So, I decided to make the cake. This recipe is a fairly easy one, although if you want to make a three layered cake as I did it is best to have three 9 inch round pans handy. The cake itself is a dense, rich cake. The icing is insanely buttery (read the ingredients list..), but it is a fascinating cake, and fun to make!

Ingredients: Cake
1/4 cup red food colouring
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened in the microwave for around 15 sec.)
1.5 cups sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1.25 cups cake flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. baking soda
Ingredients: Icing
2 cups milk
3/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups (4 sticks (!!!!)) unsalted butter, cold
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Method: Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Grease and flour 3 9 inch round bake tins, and line with parchment paper

3. In a small bowl whisk together the red food colouring, cocoa powder and the vanilla extract. Make sure there are no lumps of cocoa left.

4. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the sugar and butter (add together and mix) until it is a light cream colour and fluffy (5-7 min).

5. Add the eggs , one at a time. Mix between the additions.

6. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk. Making sure that you mix well, and scrape the sides before each addition.

7. Add the salt. Then incorporate the cocoa/red food colouring into the batter. Mix thoroughly.

8. In a small bowl mix together the baking soda and vinegar - add to the batter and mix well.

9. Divide the batter between the three pans, and place in the oven.

10. Bake for 20-25 (check at 15) until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.

11. Let cakes cool in the pans for 5-10min. Then remove from the pans and let cool on a wire rack until room temp.
Method: Icing
1. In a medium saucepan mix together the milk and flour.

2. Whisk over medium heat until it is smooth and thick.

3. Let this cool for around 40 min.

4. When it is cool, remove the skin from the top.

5. In the 40 min the flour/milk mixture is cooling place the butter and sugar in a bowl and using an electric mixer beat until fluffy (4-5min).

6. Add the vanilla extract to the butter and sugar and mix once more.

7. In thirds, mix in the cool milk/flour mixture (with the skin removed) into the butter mixture and beat between additions.
Method: Assembly
1. Choose the thickest cake for the base of the cake, and ice the top of this with the icing.

2. Place another layer of cake on top, and ice this.

3. Finally add the third cake on top of this and then add 1/3 - 1/2 the remainder of the icing in the middle of this cake.

4. With an icing implement (be it a spatula or a butter knife) spread a thin layer of icing around the entire cake.

5. Refrigerate for 30-45 min, so that the icing sets.

6. Add the remainder of the icing, and decorate as desired.

Recipe from "The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook" by Jennifer Appel pp. 91, 118

Monday, January 14, 2008

Shout out - Georgetown Liquor Company

This is a shout out to a bar that Josh and I visit on a regular basis. Although we don't drink we eat their food which is absolutely amazing. It's called the Georgetown Liquor Company( they have the best food that I have had in a really long time.

They have this sandwich called the Picard which is an amazing combination of sweet caramelized onions, mozzarella, slightly garlicy sauces and a field roast (a vegan grain meat) all toasted to perfection. It's served with au jous and is utterly amazing.

Note- you have to be 21 to enter, and the place is kind of hard to find, but the food is well worth the effort.

Georgetown Liquor Company
5501-B Airport Way S
Seattle, WA 98108
(206) 763-6764

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

This was a really tasty cake. Subtle Hazelnut flavors mingled really well with the rum syrup and Nutella filling. It is a bit of an epic cake to make, but well worth it.

Ingredients: Sponge
1/2 cup cake flour
4 large eggs, at room temp. and separated
200g (6.5 oz) roasted, skinned, and ground hazelnuts
210g sugar

Ingredients: Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 Tbs. rum

Ingredients: Filling
Nutella (small container)

Ingredients: Chocolate Glaze
375g (12oz) semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbs. light corn syrup

Method: Sponge
1. Preheat the oven to 350F, butter the bottom and the sides of a 9 inch springform, cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the base, and then butter that as well. Then lightly flour the inside of the pan.
2. Sift the flour onto a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
3. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar together (the ideal is light, and thick. This will take around 5 min).
4. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
5. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment set on medium high beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed (the volume should have tripled by this time as well).
6. Keep whisking and slowly pour in the remaining sugar (1/4 cup). Beat until the whites are stiff and hold their shape (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without the whites falling out).
7. Using a fork combine the ground hazelnuts and flour.
8. With a rubber spatula quickly fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the yolk sugar mixture.
9. Fold in 1/2 the hazelnut/flour mixture, fold in another 1/3 of the whites, then the other 1/2 of the flour mixture and finally the last of the egg whites.
10. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for between 20-30min (check at 20 and see if a toothpick comes out clean).
11. Remove the cake from the oven and promptly run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen, and then take the cake out of the pan (invert onto a wire rack - remove the parchment paper, then invert once more onto another wire rack).
12. Cool cake completely.

Method: Rum Syrup
1. Place a small saucepan on the stove, and set it to high heat. Place the water and sugar together in the saucepan. Stir, and bring to a boil. Take the saucepan off the heat once the sugar has been dissolved.
2. Stir in the lemon juice and rum.
3. Let cool.

Method: Chocolate Glaze
1. Using a double boiler that has slow simmering water in the bottom, place all the ingredients in it (chocolate, butter, corn syrup).
2. Melt together whilst stirring constantly.
3.Let it cool to 92F (33C) before using.

Method: Assembly
1. Cut the sponge horizontally in half.
2. Poke holes all over the sponge (the inside of the sponge where the filling will go. Make sure you do both halves of the sponge) with either a toothpick or a small, sharp knife.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush on the rum syrup.
4. Scrape out the Nutella from the container and place in a microwave proof dish. Microwave for around 15seconds until it is a spreadable consistency.
5. Spread the Nutella on the cake.
6. Place the halves together.
7. Making sure the chocolate glaze is 90F make a crumb coating. This mean that you place a small amount of the glaze in the center of the cake and spread it thinly over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until firm (30 min).
8. Making sure the cake is on a wire rack, and the the glaze is around 90F (you can microwave it at 5 second intervals to ensure it is 90F).
9. Pour half the glaze in the center of the cake and tilt back and forth making sure to cover the cake with the glaze.
10. Smooth the sides with and icing spatula.
11. Place in the refrigerator for 30min to set.
12. Repeat step 9, but do not smooth with an icing spatula, if you want to add whole hazelnuts to decorate, now is the time to di it so that they adhere to the surface.
13. Place in the refrigerator.
14. Serve when the glaze has set, and for a better flavor serve at room temp. Also make sure to cut the cake with a hot knife!
Recipe from Williams-Sonsoma "Essentials of Baking" pp.234-5, pp. 308-9.

Gabrielles Chocolate Truffle Cake

A chocolate cake that is moist and rich, this is pure decadence!

Ingredients: Cake
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
80g (2.5 oz) butter, melted

Ingredients: Filling
450g (15 oz) chocolate (54-57% cocoa or for a more bitter taste 64% cocoa)
2 cups cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Method: Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).

2. Sift the cocoa and flour 3 times together and set aside.

3. In a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer with a whisk attachment) beat the eggs for around 6 min. and then slowly add the sugar and beat for 2-4min more (the eggs should be pale and should have tripled in volume).

4. Fold the eggs through the flour and cocoa and then fold in the melted butter.

5. Line the base of a 9 inch (or, if you want a taller cake and 8-inch) non-stick springform tin with baking parchment.

6. Pour in the cake batter and bake for around 25 min (check at 20min). The cake is baked when it comes away from the sides of the tin.

7. Cool in the tin.

Method: Filling - While the cake is in the oven, make the filling.
1. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the cream and chocolate, stir until melted and smooth.

2. Over a saucepan of simmering water in a heatproof bowl place the egg yolks and sugar. Beat with a whisk (preferable an electric one) until thick and creamy.

3. Fold the chocolate cream mixture into the egg mixture and beat for 6 min. or until cold.

4. Refrigerate for 30 min.

Method: Assembly
1. Remove cake from the tin and cut in half horizontally.

2. Place the bottom piece bake in the tin, and pour over half the filling.

3. Place the top half back on, and cover with the remaining filling.

4. Refrigerate for 5 hours or until set.

5. When serving, heat up a tea towl under hot water and place it around the tin. Carefully remove the cake from the tin and smooth the outside with a warm knife.

Taken from Donna Hay's "Modern Classics Book 2" pp. 82-3.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Bakeries in America vs. Australia

I've just been home for a few weeks (Australia) and although I guess I now should call America my home I'm finding that commitment difficult. Anyway - to baking. There were so many bakeries in Melbourne - the locals which sell breads, pies (meat and other), pasties and an assortment of goods including: custard tarts, jam scrolls, apple and walnut scrolls with a dense rich white icing, pizza rolls, Vegemite and cheese rolls, lamingtons, biscuits, scones and other 'doughy' (for lack of a better word) selections.
Then there were the amazing Italian and Greek pastries with tarts, plenty of mini pastries which were all combined into a cafe. I wonder why bakeries aren't as popular in America (at least where I am in Seattle) compared to Australia (and I imagine many other countries).
Anybody have any thoughts on this?