May 28, 2008

Kabuki?!-Daring bakers challenge

It's that time of the month again...only this is good. =P I love the end of the month when the daring bakers show off their babies. This month's challenge is L'opera. I have never had an opera cake before, so I'm not sure how mine compares..but as a cake, it was pretty good. I chose to make a Japanese version of the L'opera, which is why I'm calling it Kabuki =P

I made the opera cake with a green tea buttercream and white chocolate mousse. I decided not to make the glaze in the end because I ran out of white chocolate. This cake came out a lot sweeter than I would normally like, but it was still very good. A small piece will satisfy your sweet tooth. I also halved the recipe because the original recipe is for 20 servings. If you would like the original recipe, you can find it here. Here's mine:

For the joconde
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup ground blanched almonds
1 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Position the rack to the middle of the oven.

2. Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).

3.Line one 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

5. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

6. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

8. Bake the cake until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven.

9. Put the pan on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pan over, and unmold.

10. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup

1/4 cup water
33g granulated sugar
1 tsp green tea powder

1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For green tea buttercream

2 teaspoons green tea powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened

1. Stir together green tea powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved. Bring sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup registers 238°F on thermometer.

2. While syrup boils, beat yolks in a large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed 1 minute.

4. Add hot syrup to yolks in a slow stream (try to avoid beaters and side of bowl), beating, then add green tea mixture and beat until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until thickened and smooth.

For the white chocolate ganache/mousse

3.5 ounces white chocolate
½ cup plus 1 ½ tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

1. Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.

2. Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.

4. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.

5. If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.

6. If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

I split my cake into four layers and it went like this:
Jaconde, syrup, buttercream, jaconde, syrup, white chocolate mousse, jaconde, syrup, buttercream, jaconde, syrup, white chocolate mousse.

  • It took my jaconde 7 minutes to bake. If you're making your own almond meal, be sure to grind it very fine, otherwise your cake won't be as light.
  • The recipe for the syrup makes more than enough, I might decrease the amount if I make this cake again.
  • The white chocolate mousse was very sweet, I might dilute it with more whipped cream next time.

May 11, 2008

Spinach Feta bread

There has been so much craze about this book, Artisan bread in five minutes. I have to say I was intrigued. I tried making Jim Lahey's no knead bread, but unfortunately, I didn't have much success with it. I think it might have been due to the fact that I didn't have a proper dutch oven to bake it in. The concept is basically the same for this bread, no kneading at all, but, this time I don't need to use a dutch oven. So I figure It would try it.

I halved the original recipe, knowing that my parents don't care for rustic type breads. The original recipe says it makes four 1 lb loaves. Instead I halved the recipe, and made four 1/2 lb loaves. Little baby boules. The first batch I made the day after I made the dough. The bread was good. It had a nice crust and a very moist inside. I made the second batch about three days later, and it was much better. So if you're thinking about making this bread, I would suggest you make the dough three or four days in advance and let the flavor develop in the fridge.

Spinach Feta Bread
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Ingredients: Makes four 1lb loaves

1/2 cup packed cooked (lightly steamed, boiled or sauteed), chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp granulated yeast (About 1 1/2 packets)
1/2 tablespoon salt
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 1/4 tsp sugar
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Squeeze the cooked spinach through a strainer to get rid of excess liquid. Mix the yeast, salt, spinach, cheese and sugar with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container. Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty mixer (with dough hook). If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

2. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

3. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days.

4. On baking day: Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 1 hour (or just 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

5. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty boiler tray on any other shelf that won’t interfere with the rising bread.

6. Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before eating.

7. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

  • check out the Artisan Bread in five minutes website.
  • The original recipe uses 2/3 cup of feta cheese for the full recipe. I used 2/3 cup of feta cheese for half the recipe. What can I say, I love feta cheese!

May 6, 2008

Lychee Mousse Cake

I made this cake for my friend and her husband for Boy's day. I've made this cake before, but I wasn't very happy with it the first time. I thought it was too hard and it wasn't very mousse-like. This time I decreased the amount of gelatin and it came out much better. The texture is very light. The cake portion of the cake is really good that I think I might just make it by itself. Here's the recipe:

Lychee Mousse Cake
Adapted from Rabbit sims

For the chiffon cake:
sugar 10g
egg yolks 2
cakeflour 42g, sifted
oil 35g
milk 35g
sugar 30g
egg whites 2

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Using a hand whisk, beat 10 g of sugar and egg yolks together until it’s pale yellow and texture is light.
3. In a separate bowl, mix oil and milk together. Gently fold in cake flour
4. Gently fold the cake flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Mix until just combined.
5. Beat egg whites and 30 g of sugar until stiff peak forms. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
6. Pour batter into a 7 inch cake tin and bake for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For the lychee mousse:
lychee 150g (without skin and stone)
lychee juice 20g
lemon juice 1 tsp (optional)
water 15g
sugar 45g
gelatin 5g
whipping cream 120g
egg white 30g

1. Puree the lychee, lychee juice, and lemon juice together. Set aside.
2. Boil water and sugar until it turns into a syrup.
3. Beat egg white to soft peak. Then gradually add in sugar syrup and beat till stiff peaks form.
4. Soak gelatin in 2 tbsp of water until the gelatin blooms. Then melt the gelatin in the microwave. Add the gelatin to the lychee mixture.
5. Beat cream till spreadable consistency.
6. Fold egg white and cream into lychee mixture until just combined.
7. Arrange cake at the bottom of a 7in cake pan and pour the mousse over. Chill in refrigerator until set.

May 4, 2008

Mascarpone Cheesecake

I found this recipe on Epicurious. I came searching for a Mascarpone cheesecake after eating at one of my favorite Italian restaurants here in Oahu, called Baci Bistro. They had a mascarpone cheesecake that was so delicious that I searched for a recipe online as soon as I got home. If you look at the Epicurious link, you'll see that everyone who's made this cheesecake gave it 4 stars. That's very unusual on Epicurious. There's almost always someone who would dislike it. This cheesecake scored so high that I was very skeptical. The result...

I'm in love!!! I'm in love with this cheesecake...I don't think I've made a better cheesecake before in my life, and I don't remember tasting a better cheesecake in recent memory. I would use this recipe to challenge anyone's "best" cheesecake. This is absolutely incredibly divine!!! The texture is light, and the taste is rich without being overpowering. Just an overall beautiful cheesecake. Here's the recipe, with a few changes. I HIGHLY recommend it!!

Mascarpone cheesecake
adapted from Epicurious

For crust:
125g butter
40g sugar
150g flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Mix the flour and sugar together. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter in the flour mixture until coarse meals form.
3. Lightly work mixture to form a dough. Press the dough into the bottom of a 8 inch springform pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

For filling:
20 oz cream cheese (2 1/2 eight-ounce packages), softened
8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2" of vanilla bean
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make filling while crust bakes:
1. Beat cream cheese, mascarpone, and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium high speed until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla bean, lemon juice, and salt and mix at low speed until combined.
3. Pour into cooled crust and bake until cake is set and puffed around edge but still trembles slightly when pan is shaken gently, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly in springform pan on rack, about 20 minutes.

  • The original recipe uses a different crust, I didn't have the vanilla wafer that the original recipe calls for, so I made this shortbread crust. It's very delicious and easy to make.
  • The original recipe uses 9" springform pan because it also has a sour cream topping. I chose to make the cheesecake without the topping, so I used a 8" pan to compensate for the height.
  • The original recipe uses 1 tsp of vanilla. I had a vanilla bean waiting to be used, so I substitute the vanilla bean for the vanilla extract.


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