PERFECT CHEESECAKE ~ BAKING PARTNER’S CHALLENGE #9

We had many scrumptious choices this month – too many – hard to choose just one. It was a beautiful and classic cheesecake, tangy and sweet, with a velvety smooth and rich texture.I added my homemade caramel sauce and served it for Easter.
Perfect Cheesecake.jpg
adapted from Perfect Cheesecake by Simply recipes for Baking Partners GROUP

Crust
2 cups of Graham cracker crumbs (I used a combo of ginger snaps and vanilla wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, omit the pinch of salt), melted

Filling
32 ounces cream cheese at room temperature and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of Sea salt
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 cup regular sour cream
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Topping – I omitted to help cut down on the cholesterol since I was adding the caramel sauce
2 cups regular sour cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

CRUST PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place a 9 inch spring form pan on a large sheet of heavy duty foil.  Smooth foil up the sides rolling at the top edge.  You are basically making your pan water proof.
  • Grind the graham crackers and/or ginger snaps in a food processor until finely ground.
  • In a large bowl stir together the crackers, sugar and salt. With your hands blend in the melted butter until you have a uniform consistency.
  • Press the cracker crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of your prepared springform pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

FILLING PREPARATION

  • Cream the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the sugar and beat for a few minutes more.
  • Add the salt and vanilla, beating until well blended after each addition.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.
  • Add the sour cream, beating until well blended.
  • Add the heavy cream, beating until well blended.
  • Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl scraping up any thicker bits of cream cheese that has stuck to the sides or bottom.

BAKING

  • Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan.
  • Pour about 2 quarts of boiling water around the pan.
  • Pour the prepared cream cheese filling into the springform pan over the cracker crust.
  • Smooth the filling level.
  • Bake on the lower rack of your oven.
  • Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan creating a water bath for the cheesecake. Pour enough water to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  • Turn off the oven.
  • Crack open the oven door 1-inch or so, and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour. Slow cooling this way helps prevent cracking in the cheesecake.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and discard the foil.
  • With a fresh piece of foil, tent the cheesecake so that the foil doesn’t actually touch the cheesecake.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.

TOPPING PREPARATION

  • In a large mixing bowl cream together the sour cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, until well blended.
  • Chill topping mixture until you are ready to serve the cake.

PREPARE THE CAKE FOR SERVING

  • Run a table knife around the inside edge of the spring form pan to release anything that might have stuck during baking.
  • Remove outer pan ring.
  • Spread the sour cream topping evenly on cheesecake.
  • Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.
  • Enjoy.

CARAMEL SAUCE
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
2+ tablespoons water

  • Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • In a medium saucepan cook the corn syrup over a medium heat until bubbly.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue to cook until the edges begin to turn a light amber color.
  • Add in 1/4 cup sugar more and repeat until all the sugar is blended in.
  • Continue cooking until amber color darkens stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat and carefully fold in the cream mixture.
  • Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until caramel is bubbling.
  • Serve warm.

Makes 1 1/2 cups. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
NOTE: Microwave20-30 seconds to soften refrigerated caramel before serving.



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HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAKING PARTNERS – CHALLENGE #13 – LEMON CHIFFON CAKE

It’s our birthday! Our group is turning 1 year old.
Happy Birthday BAKING PARTNERS!!!!

Chiffon cakes are foamy and airy cakes in texture and combine the richness of a butter cake with lightness of a sponge cake. They are leavened primarily with beaten egg whites, just like Angel foot cakes are. In fact, they are very similar in appearance to angel food cakes and are usually baked in the same type of tube pan. Chiffon cakes, unlike angel food cakes, contain both egg yolks and vegetable oil. These two ingredients keep the cake moist, soft and tender and result in a cake that tastes great and keeps well.  Even refrigerated, the oil in the cake remains soft and makes it much more tender and contain less sugar than an Angel food cake. 

The chiffon cake was created by Harry Baker, a Los Angeles insurance agent, in 1927.  Baker carefully guarded his secret technique for almost two decades, only selling his cakes to celebrities and the famous Brown Derby restaurant. The popularity of his cakes grew quickly, and he eventually sold the recipe to General Mills in 1947.
Now, Mr. Baker had two big secrets with his chiffon cake recipe. The first is that chiffon cakes use oil instead of butter, which aides in the airy quality of the cake. It is also nice because the cake can be refrigerated without firming up. The second secret of the chiffon cake is to whip the egg whites separately from the yolks and to fold them ever so gently into the batter.  If done correctly, the results are divine. If not, you can end up with an oozy-gooey mess in your pans.Saraswathi of Sara’s kitchen suggested this Lemon Glow Chiffon cake.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 50 to 55 minutes

Makes: 1 ungreased two piece 10 inch tube pan OR can be halved and baked in 9 inch tube pan or 10 inch round cake pan or 8 inch round cake pan + 6 inch cake pan.

Adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Dry Ingredients
2 1/4 cups (8 ounces) cake flour
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ~ 2 tablespoons lemon zest
Wet Ingredients
½ cup canola oil or sunflower oil
3 large egg yolks
2/3 cup water @ room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

For Meringue
1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
7 large egg whites

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  • Use a 10-inch tube pan with a detachable bottom, but do not grease it as the batter needs to climb up the sides OR line two 9 inch baking pan with wax paper and do not grease the pan. Place a ramekin in middle of the pan.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and the lemon zest. 
  • With your fingertips, work the zest and sugar together until the sugar is grainy and very aromatic.  
  • Add the cake flour, baking soda and salt to the bowl.
  • If using a stand mixer, use the beater attachment and beat on low until the ingredients are well incorporated. You can also do this by hand with a whisk.
  • Make a well in the center of the ingredients and add the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice and vanilla.   
  • Mix for about one minute on medium speed until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps.
  • In a second large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they are foamy. 
  • Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat on medium speed until they reach soft peak stage. You will know your egg whites have reached this stage when the beaters start to leave a trail or when the peaks fall over when the beaters are raised. 
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and continue to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks when the beaters are raised.
  • Using a slotted spoon or balloon whisk, add 1/3 of  egg whites to your cake batter and gently stir them until they are incorporated. 
  • Add the remaining egg whites to the batter and very gently fold them into the batter until they are incorporated and no traces of egg whites remain.
  • Pour the batter into the ungreased pan and run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets. 
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes  or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed in the center.  
  • Once cooked, take the cake out of the oven and immediately turn it upside down over a bottle* or similar to it  until it is completely  cool, which can take up to 90 minutes.
  • Using an up and down motion, use a palette knife to loosen the sides of the cake away from the tin. 
  • Pull out the cake and use the palette knife around the bottom of the cake to release it from the base. 
  • Turn it over so that the base becomes the top (I didn’t because I like the rustic look of my funky pan) and sprinkle with a dusting of icing sugar to serve. I used a bourbon lemon glaze.

Cake will stay fresh for 3 days in room temperature, 10 days refrigerated or  2 months frozen.

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BAKING PARTNERS CHALLENGE #11 CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS

Baking Partners collage button
We are a group of home bakers helping each other to achieve baking perfection.  Baking partners was begun by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.   In order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and the right techniques are required.  We are a small group of home bakers, who love to bake and want to learn more about the tips and secrets of baking and baking well.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group. The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic procedures if there are ways to improve and to eat delicious food.
This month is an awesome choice of Chocolate eclairs!
Baking Partners #11

Chocolate Eclairs and French laundry Gougeres
This month baking partner’s challenge we are going to learn, Pate a choux pastry, a French pastry, which is used in sweet and savory items.  The recipe came from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery book.  I have to admit my first batch turned out wrong, but it was all my fault working too fast.  Batch #2 was delicious and perfect. There is also a recipe of chocolate éclairs recipe from Food network’s Alton brown.

Please try to make both recipes if not at least one. If you don’t know what pate a choux is, here is the link you can read about it. We were asked to stick to the recipe as much as possible. You can see step to step tutorial of gougeres making from this link.

Choux Pastry Bouchon Bakery for Éclairs – Makes 15 large Éclairs

Pate a choux for Eclairs
1 ¼ cups All purpose flour
2 tablespoons+ 2 teaspoons Sugar
1 cup Water
4.2 ounces Unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ + 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 Eggs (use one more if needed)

  • Get your kitchen aid stand mixer ready with the paddle tool, if you don’t have kitchen aid use your hand mixer.
  • Sift the flour and mix with the sugar, set aside.
  • Combine water, butter and salt n a medium sauce pan. Place it over medium low heat and stir until butter is melted.
  • When butter is melted turn the heat up and bring it to a simmer, then remove from heat.
  • Add the flour/sugar mix and stir until well combined and the mixture has a paste like consistency.
  • Then place over medium heat and stir rapidly until the dough pulls away from the sides and the bottom of the pan is clean.
  • Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for 1 min to release little of the steam and heat.
  • Start adding the eggs, one at a time, beating until every egg is completely absorbed
  • After all the eggs are added, beat on medium for 2 min.
  • When the paddle is lifted the dough should form a bird’s beak – It should hold its shape and turn down over itself.
  • Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and chill until completely cold.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Make a piping template by drawing six 15 cm/6 inch lines, 5 cm apart on parchment paper. Then place the template under the parchment paper you will pipe on.
  • With a large star tip pipe the éclairs, following the lines on the template.
  • When the pastry is reaching its 15 cm/6inch, begin to lessen the pressure, and then stop it as you bring the dough back over itself, leaving a little curl at the end.
  • Wet your finger and gently press down the tip of the curls.
  • Spray the éclairs lightly with water.
  • Place in the hot oven and immediately turn the heat down to350°.
  • Bake for 40 min, rotating the pan half way through.
  • Lower the temp to 325° and bake for additional 20 min.
  • Lower the temperature to 300° and bake for 10 more minutes.
  • Your puffs should now be light brown, light and hollow.

Chocolate pastry cream
5.8 ounces 70% chocolate chopped
.8 ounce 100% unsweetened chocolate chopped
2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon Custard powder or all purpose flour
1/4cup + 1 tablespoon Unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Egg yolks (1/4cup)
1/4 cup+ 3 tablespoons sugar
1.8 ounces Unsalted butter at room temperature

  • Melt two chocolate together in double boiler and set aside
  • Combine the custard powder or all purpose flour and cocoa powder in a small bowl.
  • In a bowl add some ice and water and set aside. This is our ice bath.
  • Whisk in egg yolks and sugar by gradually adding sugar and to this add custard powder or flour mixtures then add milk and combined very well.
  • Heat the above egg-sugar-flours-milk mixture over medium heat until it begins to thicken with constant string.
  • Pour the pastry cream over the strainer and pressing gently to push the thickened cream through. Whisk for about 1 minute to cool. Then add butter in 2 additions and mix in well. Then add melted chocolate and mix in very well until everything is combined well.
  • Transfer to air tight container and line with plastic wrap on the top to prevent the film from forming, refrigerate for at least 1 hour and you can keep this chocolate cream for about 4 days.
  • When you are ready to use the cream transfer to bowl and stir gently until it has creamy consistency.

Instead of chocolate pastry cream you can also use orange custard.  I chose the orange to help make the flavor more delicate and then topped them with a chocolate glaze.

Orange Custard
1 1/4 cups Whole milk
1 tablespoon Orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
3  Egg Yolks
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2.5 tbs  cornstarch
1 tablespoon Grand Mariner (optional)

  • In a small saucepan, warm the milk and orange zest over low heat until it is just hot enough to steam.
  • While the milk is warming, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth.
  • Temper the eggs by adding a little bit of the warm milk and whisk constantly. Add little at a time until you have added half of the milk.
  • Then pour the eggs/milk mix into the pan with the remaining hot milk.
  • Heat it over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture reaches 170° and is very thick.
  • Remove from heat and stir in Grand Mariner.
  • Chill before piping into the Éclairs.

How to fill the Éclairs

  • Use a 0.4-0.6 cm plane tip.
  • Poke 2 holes, 1/2 inch from each end, into the bottom of each éclair. (I made mini ones-about 2 inches long) so only poked from one end to fill them)
  • Fill a pastry bag with custard of your choice.
  • Place the tip of the pastry bag into one of the holes and begin filling the éclair.
  • Pipe cream as needed into the second hole or until the éclair feels heavy.
  • You should use 1/4 cup of cream.

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BAKING PARTNERS CHALLENGE #10 – PIZZA

Baking Partners collage buttonWe are a group of home bakers helping each other to achieve baking perfection.  Baking partners was begun by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.   In order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and the right techniques are required.  We are a small group of home bakers, who love to bake and want to learn more about the tips and secrets of baking and baking well.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group. The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic procedures if there are ways to improve and to eat delicious food.
Baking Partners Pizza

THIS MONTH WE ARE MAKING NEW YORK STYLE PIZZA AND SAUCE – YAY!  I chose Archana of Tangy Minds recipe because we love thin or original crusts. Recipe adapted from SeriousEats

Ingredients for the thin crust:
22 1/2 ounces (about 4 1/2 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
15 ounces lukewarm water

Ingredients for making its NY Style pizza sauce
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes or Fresh Tomatoes.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 six-inch sprigs fresh basil with leaves attached
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and split in half
1 teaspoon sugar

Toppings:

Any sliced or chopped veggies of your choice such as capscium, sliced onions, mushrooms. Also you can add paneer or sliced jalapenos or even fruit such as pineapple. I used very thinly sliced mushrooms.

Any Meat as you like. Preferable pre-cooked Chicken pieces if you want. It is optional. I used super thin pepperoni just under the cheese.

CHEESE – 1 to 2 cups (depends on the size of the pizza) grated cheese – Parmesan or Mozzarella Cheese.

For Making the sauce:

  • Pulse the tomatoes and their juice in food processor / Mixie until pureed, or puree with hand blender. Puree should not be completely smooth, but should have no chunks larger than 1/16 of an inch. Set tomatoes aside.
  • Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil sprigs, onion halves, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For Making the thin crust pizza:

  • Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in bowl of food processor or in a bowl. Pulse 3 to 4 times until incorporated if you have food processor. otherwise mix well together with the help of the whisk . Add olive oil and water. Run food processor until mixture forms ball that rides around the bowl above the blade, about 15 seconds. Continue processing 15 seconds longer. Those who don’t have food processor. try it with hand mixer or stand mixer or knead it with your hands and how are you kneading like chappati/roti dough.
  • Transfer dough ball to lightly floured surface and knead once or twice by hand until smooth ball is formed. It should pass the windowpane test. Divide dough into three even parts and place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise at least one day, and up to 5.
  • At least two hours before baking, remove dough from refrigerator and shape into balls by gathering dough towards bottom and pinching shut. Flour well and place each one in a separate medium mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at warm room temperature until roughly doubled in volume.
  • 1 hour before baking, Preheat oven to 400°F. Turn single dough ball out onto lightly flour surface. Gently press out dough into rough 8-inch circle, leaving outer 1-inch higher than the rest. Gently stretch dough by draping over knuckles into a 12 to 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to pizza pan.
  • Spread approximately 2/3 cup of sauce evenly over surface of crust, leaving 1/2 to 1-inch border along edge. Add toppings of your choice evenly and spread 1/3 of cheese over sauce evenly.
  • Bake until cheese is melted with some browned spots and crust is golden brown and puffed, 10 to 15 minutes or varies depends on your oven.
  • Transfer to cutting board, slice, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining two dough balls, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.



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BASIC BREAD ~ BAKING PARTNERS CHALLENGE #8

BakingPartnersButton2-1BreadWe are going to try two method of bread making one is Asian method Tangzhong and other is Scandinavian method of Scald flour. These are two are really easy to put together. For this challenge you have to try one of the methods and make bread, if you want to try both methods that are also welcome. Tangzhong method gives very soft bread. Scalded flour method usually is used to try whole grains like rye, millet, buckwheat etc… You can make white bread with that technique too.  I made the White bread Scandinavian method of Scald flour.

Scalded flour bread Adapted from Cornercafe via Baking Partners

Makes one 23cm x 10cm x 10cm loaf

[Ingredients] Scalded Flour: 100g bread flour 100ml boiling water

Main Dough: 350g bread flour 20g (2 tablespoons) milk powder 35g caster sugar 5g (1 teaspoon) salt 8g instant yeast 200ml (approx.) lukewarm water, adjust as necessary 35g butter, chopped into small pieces at room temperature http://cornercafe.wordpress.com/

[Preparation] Scalded Flour: Pour boiling hot water all at once over the flour and stir quickly with a pair of chopsticks (or fork) until combined with no more visible dry flour. It should be a doughy clumpy mixture at this stage. Set aside for 5 minutes for the dough clusters to fully absorb the heat and the moisture. Then cover with cling film and let cool to room temperature, about 1/2 hour, or up to 1 hour.

For the Main Dough: 1. Prepare a 23cm (L) x 10cm (W) x 10cm (H) loaf tin. Sift bread flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface. Add instant dry yeast and mix well. Form the flour mixture into a well. Add scalded flour mixture, then gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. During hand kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. (I usually just pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times every few minutes between kneading.) 2. Knead in butter until incorporated. Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise until double in size in a large greased bowl, cover with cling film (should take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months). To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the centre of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further. 3. Punch down, knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Then let rest for 15 minutes. 4. with a rolling pin, roll out into a long oval shape. Then roll up from the short end like a Swiss roll. Rest 10 minutes and repeat the rolling process, then place the roll-up dough into the tin. 5. Cover loosely and let rise until the dough has risen to almost the top of the tin. 6. Bake in preheated 175°C oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Taste: Soft white bread loaf that stays soft for at least 2-3 days Consume: Best within 3-4 days Storage: May be frozen to keep longer, defrost before serving

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UPSIDE DOWN APPLE PIE & TOURTIERE du SHACK aka PORK POT PIE- BAKING PARTNERS #6

We are a group of home bakers helping each other to achieve baking perfection.  Baking partners was begun by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.   In order to achieve the best results, a perfect recipe and the right techniques are required.  We are a small group of home bakers, who love to bake and want to learn more about the tips and secrets of baking and baking well.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group. The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic procedures if there are ways to improve and to eat delicious food.  

This month we had 3 choices and I found the time to make 2 of them.  I also got to pick one that I’d been dying to make, Upside Down Apple Pie.  We LOVED it!! The one thing I am going to do different next time is make them all individual pies – more crust and gooey wonderfulness that way.

UPSIDE DOWN APPLE PIE Yield: 8 servings.
original recipe from Taste of Home

CRUST:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening (Crisco stick)
2 tablespoons cold butter
5 to 7 tablespoons orange juice

FILLING:
6 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup Imperial Sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (sifted)
1/2 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon maple extract (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (I like honey crisp or Granny Smith) (about 1/8-inch thick)

GLAZE:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons orange juice

  • In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening and butter until crumbly.
  • Gradually add orange juice, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball.
  • Divide dough into two balls. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Line a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate with heavy-duty foil, leaving 1-1/2 in. beyond edge; coat the foil with cooking spray.
  • Combine 4 tablespoons butter, brown sugar and nuts; spoon into prepared pie plate.
  • In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and remaining butter; toss gently.
  • On waxed paper, roll out one ball of pastry to fit pie plate.
  • Place pastry over nut mixture, pressing firmly against mixture and sides of plate; trim to 1 in. beyond plate edge.
  • Fill with apple mixture.
  • Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie; place over filling. Trim to 1/4 in. beyond plate edge.
  • Fold bottom pastry over top pastry; seal and flute edges. Cut four 1-in. slits in top pastry.
  • Bake at 375° for 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown (cover edges with foil during the last 20 minutes to prevent over browning).
  • Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Invert onto a serving platter; carefully remove foil. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over pie. 

TOURTIERE du SHACK aka PORK POT PIE

note: I made these as individual pies and they were a HUGE hit.  I also made a few changes based on what I had on hand or available locally.  One of my changes was to hide the mushrooms from hubby.  He swears he hates cooked mushrooms, but I’ve gotten quite crafty at disguises them visibly while keeping their flavor.
adapted from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2012/01/tourtiere-du-shack

Crust

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 medium onions, chopped, divided I used 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 5 whole black peppercorns plus freshly ground black pepper I used Indonesian White pepper
  • 5 sprigs thyme I used Penzeys French thyme, 1 teaspoon
  • 2 bay leaves I omitted
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 2″ pieces
  • Kosher salt I used Himalayan Pink Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 medium button mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped I used Marx Foods dehydrated Chanterelle rehydrated in the white wine
  • I added a celery stalk, sliced and
  • I added a large carrot, sliced to disguise the mushrooms from hubby
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine I used Savignon Blanc
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground pork
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup grated, peeled russet potato I used Yukon Gold
  • All-purpose flour (for surface)
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

  • A 9″-diameter deep-dish glass or ceramic pie dish
  • Directions:

Crust

  • Pulse flour, butter, and salt in a food processor until pea-size pieces of butter form. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add 1/4 cup ice water and stir just until shaggy clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD:Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Filling

  • Preheat oven to 325°. Combine broth, 1/2 chopped onion, 1 chopped garlic clove, whole peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves in a medium pot. Add pork shoulder; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Cover pot. Transfer to oven; braise until pork shoulder is tender and shreds easily, about 2 hours. Remove from oven; let cool.
  • Transfer pork shoulder to a work surface. Shred meat with your fingers and transfer to a medium bowl. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve; add 1/2 cup juices to pork; discard solids in strainer.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 chopped onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves; cook, stirring often, until soft, 5–7 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until almost all liquid is evaporated, 5–7 minutes. Add wine; stir, scraping up browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring often, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  • Add ground pork, cinnamon, and cloves. Cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, until pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add potato. Cook until potato is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in shredded pork with juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper; let cool slightly. Chill until cold, about 1 hour.DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
  • Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into a 12″ round. Transfer to pie dish, leaving overhang. Fill with cooled meat mixture. Roll out remaining dough disk into a 10″ round. Place dough over meat filling. Fold overhang over top crust and crimp edges. Brush crust with egg yolk. Cut three 2″ slits in top crust. Chill for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Bake tourtiere for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 40–50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

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BAKING PARTNERS #5 – SHAPED DINNER ROLLS & HOLIDAY CAKES

We are a group of home bakers helping each other to achieve baking perfection.  Baking partners was begun by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a  perfect recipe and the right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love to bake and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group. The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic procedures if there are ways to improve and to eat delicious food.

I’m making up for last month, which was shaped dinner rolls and we had to choose 3 shapes, and I failed to post during the move.  This month’s theme is holiday cakes and I chose the Brazil Nut cake. 

For the dinner rolls I chose Lion House, Clover Leaf and small braid knots.  I loved the Lion house and small braid knots, but my clover leafs were embarrassing.

Loved the Brazil Nut Cake!

Faye Levy Chocolate Sensations, HP Books Inc., USA, 1986, p.22-23
Chocolate –Brazil Nut Cake
1-1/2 cups Brazilian nuts (about 7 oz)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup Sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup (6 oz) unsalted butter slightly softened
6 eggs separated, room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Chocolate Honey Frosting
½ cup whipping cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
6 tablespoons (3 oz.) unsalted butter, slightly softened but still cool
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon honey
Garnish
¼ cup Brazil nuts chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350F(175C). 
  • Toast nuts in a shallow baking pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Transfer nuts into large strainer. Rub nuts against the strainer with a towel and remove most of the skin and keep aside.
  • Melt chocolate in double boiler or heatproof medium bowl over hot, not simmering, water over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth, remove and set aside to cool.
  • Butter 9”x3” springform pan, line base with parchment paper and grease and flour the sides of the pan.
  • Grind the nuts with 2 tablespoons sugar into a fine powder. Transfer into a bowl and sift flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
  • Cream butter and 6 tablespoons of sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add one egg yolk at a time and beat till all 6 are blended and pale. Stir in the melted chocolate.
  • In another bowl beat egg white and cream of tartar in medium speed until it forms soft peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat till white are stiff and shiny but not dry.
  • Gently fold in 1/3 of the white into the chocolate flour mixture, repeat folding in batches until batter is blended.
  • Transfer batter into prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes or till the tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Using a spatula go around the cake gently and invert onto a cake rack and allow cooling completely.
Frosting
  • Bring cream to a full boil in a small saucepan remove from heat and immediately.
  • Add the chopped chocolate. Stir quickly till the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature. 
  • Whip this at high speed till it thickens and becomes pale.
  • Cream butter in a medium bowl until it is soft and smooth, gradually add the chocolate mixture and honey and beat well
  • Using a long spatula spread frosting evenly on the side and top of the cake. 
  • Fill the center with chopped Brazil nuts.
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CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CAKE with ORANGE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING – BAKING PARTNERS CHALLENGE #3

We are a group of home bakers helping each other to achieve baking perfection.  Baking partners was begun by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.
Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a  perfect recipe and the right techniques are required.
We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group. The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic procedures if there are ways to improve and to eat delicious food. 

This month’s theme is Pumpkin.  We were given 3 recipes to choose from; Reshmi of Easy Cook suggested Pumpkin chocolate chips Muffin from Joy of baking  which is  adapted form This Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe is adapted from Baking from the Heart, a collaborative cookbook with Michael J Rose or Priya R of Cook Like Priya suggested Chocolate pumpkin cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting from Country living (which is what I chose) or Julie of Erivum Puliyumm suggested a vegan pumpkin cup cake EGGLESS PUMPKIN CUPCAKES WITH SPICED BUTTER CREAM & CANDIED PECANS.

BAKING PARTNERS CHALLENGE #3

As with anything I cook, bake or create I base it on my families likes and dislikes along with what I have on hand that needs to be used up.  In this recipe I substituted lemon for orange because I have this amazing Lorann Professional Kitchen Lemon Bakery Emulsion. I also added a square of Baker’s semi-sweet baking chocolate. Good choices as this frosting turned out like eating candy.

Chocolate Pumpkin cupcakes with orange lemon cream cheese frosting from Country living.  You can see the adaptation of this recipe here also.

Serves: 18 Edit
Yields: One 8-inch 3-layer cake or 36 cupcakes
Total Time: 1 hr 10 min
Oven Temp: 350˚

2 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) all-purpose flour
1 cup(s) good-quality cocoa
2 tablespoon(s) good-quality cocoa
1 tablespoon(s) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon(s) fresh-grated nutmeg
3/4 cup(s) buttermilk
1 1/2 cup(s) pumpkin purée
1 1/2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
2 1/4 stick(s) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup(s) (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting, (see link below)

  • Prepare cake pans: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter three 8-inch cake pans and fit each bottom with an 8-inch circle of parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Make the batter: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and light. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, blending well after each addition.
  • Bake the cake: Divide the batter among the pans and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean — about 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 20 minutes. Remove cakes and cool. (For cupcakes: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place cupcake liners in standard cupcake tins and fill each with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for 22 minutes.)
  • Assemble the cake: Trim each of the layers. Place one layer on a cake plate and top with one third of the frosting. Repeat with the second and third layers. (To ensure that the cake layers do not shift, cut three skewers to 1/4 inch shorter than the full height of the cake and insert them before icing the top layer.) Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Orange Cream-Cheese Frosting (I used the frosting below)
1 package(s) (8-ounce) cream cheese softened
1/4 cup(s) (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon(s) fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon(s) grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
4 cup(s) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon(s) orange food coloring

Directions
Blend the cream cheese ,butter, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium speed, until smooth.
Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and creamy — about 3 more minutes.

CHOCOLATE LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING – this frosting turned out fabulous – like eating fudge!
1 package 8-ounce cream cheese softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 (1 ounce)  block Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate
1 teaspoon Lorann Professional Kitchen Lemon Bakery Emulsion

3 cups powdered sugar

  •  In a medium bowl beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Add lemon emulsion and vanilla.  Beat until well blended.
  • Add powdered sugar gradually until well blended and smooth.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour to set icing before serving.

Tips & Techniques
Start with chilled frosting and ice the layers to 1/2 inch from the edge to prevent too much dripping.

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Ultimate Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Last month I joined Baking Partners.  We are a group of home bakers helping each other to achieve baking perfection.  Baking partners was begun by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

Baking a homemade bread, cake or cookies will give the best outcome. However in order to achieve the best results, a  perfect recipe and the right techniques are required.

We are a small group of home baker friends, who love and want to learn more about the nook and corners of baking.  We are planning to try out recipes from books/magazines and cooking shows.  Every member gets a chance to present their choice of recipe and share important points with the rest of the group. The main purpose of this group is to learn the techniques, critic procedures if there are ways to improve and to eat delicious food.

This month’s theme is Cookies.  We were given 3 recipes to choose from and since the reveal date is my birthday I chose the recipe I liked best for Ultimate Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito selected by Tina of Pinay in Texas from Food & Wine Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes Vol. 14.  This was an excellent choice – crunchy outside, smooth and creamy inside – a very unusual cookie texture, but wonderful!

Ultimate Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened slightly
4 ounces Cream Cheese at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  • In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. 
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar and brown sugar – beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
  • Beat in the eggs, heavy cream and vanilla until blended. 
  • At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients.  Add the melted chocolate and chocolate chips and beat just until incorporated.  
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  • Scoop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them two inches apart. 
  • Bake for 12 minutes until the cookies are just set; shift the baking sheets for top to bottom and front to back half way through. 
  • Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Note: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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I’m Back…

I’m finally feeling better and able to eat a little more as well as get back to cooking, creating, baking and all sorts of mischief.  These are the sites I’m now going to participate in regularly and/or where you can find my antics, recipes and mischief.

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