Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yummy Leftover Cake

Leftover Cake

All day last Saturday, as I was busy whipping up goodies, Annie kept asking me if she could help. Ben was my dishwasher throughout the day (more than willing since I was paying him $10 to do the job), but Annie had no other job than to lick the beaters (a job she is very willing to do for free!). But she wanted to do more than just taste the unbaked components.

Upon completion of the nonpareil chocolate chocolate chocolate cake, and three varieties of cupcakes, all with different fillings and icings, I had several little containers of icings in the refrigerator. I also had leftover chocolate cake layers in the freezer from an experiment gone wrong. And we had friends coming for dinner - actually bringing the entire dinner to our house because they knew I'd have no time to cook that day. (These are very, very good friends!)

I told them that I'd provide wine and dessert.

Leftover Cake

Finally, Annie was allowed to get her hands on a cake! She was so patient all day. We pretty much just threw this cake together - cutting the cake layers and stacking them with a layer each of chocolate ganache icing, coconut buttercream, and vanilla buttercream (recipe below). Leftover chocolate ganache icing spread on top and leftover nonpareils lining the outside.

Leftover Cake

It was beautiful - and so so good! And just the perfect size for each of us to have a slice.

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting a.k.a. American Buttercream
from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Note: This is the icing I make if I need a quick white icing for writing on or decorating a chocolate cake. It requires no cooking and whips up in no time. If I just need a little icing I only make 1/3 recipe using 1 stick of butter and I use a hand mixer. Add a little milk (a few drops) if the icing is too thick or isn't coming together.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the frosting is nice and fluffy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Filling and Chocolate Ganache Buttercream

Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Birthday Cake

I love our new house. The days and nights are getting cooler and I'm starting to worry that we can't turn on the heater yet (it needs some repair). But as long as I bake something during the day (which I usually do) and my new range heats up the kitchen, and I have my cozy down comforter over me at night, I'll not worry too much about freezing. Every week there's a different contractor in the house doing something, and there's an endless list of things to do, but I still love it.

Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Birthday Cake

I love the new town we live in. It's a real community where the neighbors take their dogs for long walks, and there is a spring garden market and a fall festival, and a farmer's market where locals gather every Saturday to meet the farmers and buy local produce. There are Gallery Walks and some great restaurants. I can walk or ride my bike to the grocery store, the library, or the post office. The kids walk to school and if they've forgotten something at home, I'm only two blocks away and I say, "Ok! I'll bring it right over!" - no problem. (We used to drive 30 minutes to school.) I'm spending a LOT less time in the car these days and that means... more time to bake (and do laundry)!

Last weekend, a friend asked me to make a birthday cake for her sister. About 30 people were invited to the party. She told me that the birthday girl loves chocolate and nonpareils, potato chips, and the Jersey shore. The chocolate and nonpareils I could work with. I was so happy with the way the nonpareils dressed up the cake. So pretty and sophisticated and no difficult piping. I'll be using those again for sure. She wanted just a Laverne and Shirley type "L" on top for the birthday girl's first initial. So simple, so pretty.

Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Birthday Cake

Each tier has two layers of dark chocolate cake with an inch-thick layer of chocolate mousse between them. A rich chocolate ganache buttercream covers the entire cake. All in, the cake required about 2 pounds of chocolate, 3 cups of cocoa powder, 5 sticks of butter and 3 cups of heavy cream. That's a lot of rich and yummy goodness.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
from Sky High by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Makes a 9-inch triple layer cake, Serves 16-20

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
2 eggs
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment and spray the parchment with cooking spray.
2. Brew the strong coffee. While the coffee is brewing, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.
3. Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate and let stand for a minute. Then whisk the mixture until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.
4. In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the 3 cake pans.
5. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out almost clean. (I also lightly press a finger on top of the cake and if it springs back, it's done.) Let the cakes cool in their pans on wire racks for 10-15 minutes. Unmold onto racks; carefully peel off the parchment and let cool completely, at least one hour.
6. To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand. Cover the top evenly with half the White Chocolate Mousse, leaving a 1/4 -inch margin around the edge. Repeat with the second layer and the remaining mousse. Set the third layer on top and pour half the Sour Cream Chocolate Icing over the filled cake. Spread all over the sides and top. Don't worry if some of the cake shows through. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the icing to set. Cover the rest of the icing and set aside at room temperature.
7. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing, which should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If the icing is too soft, chill briefly. If it is too stiff, microwave on high for just 2-3 seconds to soften, then stir to mix well. Use an offset spatula to swirl the frosting around the cake.

Chocolate Mousse
I double this recipe for the two-tiered cake.

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup cold whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl; let stand 1 minute to soften. Add boiling water; stir until gelatin is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Cool slightly.

2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl; add whipping cream and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bottom of bowl occasionally, until mixture is stiff. Pour in gelatin mixture; beat until well blended. Spoon into serving dishes.

3. Refrigerate about 30 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired. Cover; refrigerate leftover desserts. Four 1/2 cup servings.

To double the recipe: Use 1 envelope gelatin; double remaining ingredients. Follow directions above, using large bowl instead of medium bowl.

Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Polafito
Note: I made 1 1/2 recipes for the tiered cake and had some leftover

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped - or you can use a combination of dark and milk chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1-inch pieces

Place both chocolates in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil, then remove from the heat and immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Starting in the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate mixture until completely smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

With the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium speed gradually add the butter pieces and mix until thoroughly incorporated. The frosting should be completely smooth and have a silky look. If the icing is too soft, refrigerate it, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes until it is the desired consistency.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010 Pie Festival and a Prize-Winning Raspberry Custard Tart

Raspberry Custard Tart

Last weekend marked the 3rd Annual Pie Festival and Contest organized by my mother-in-law and a few of her neighbors. You may have heard me talk about it in 2009 and 2008.

2010 Pie Festival

The shelter was rented and decorated with hanging aprons and vintage tablecloths. The table centerpieces were made with garden-picked flowers in quart canning jars set inside a brown paper bag and tied with ribbon. There was coffee and water and iced tea for drinking. And of course pies for eating. Everything was perfect.

2010 Pie Festival

Each pie was registered and three pieces were cut from each pie. The pieces were placed on a plate with a ballot attached. All of the attendees chose the pieces they wanted to taste and rated them for appearance, taste, crust, and originality.
There were more than 25 pies entered in the contest. It was the year of custards and creams. All of the pies were delicious!

2010 Pie Festival Pies

Row 1: Momofuku's Crack Pie, Aunt Ginny's Coconut Cream, Blackberry Apple, Blueberry Streusel, Fruit Glazed Creme Brulee
Row 2: Pineapple Custard, Lemon Meringue, Peach Polka Dot, Shaker Sugar, Lemon Buttermilk
Row 3: Chocolate Cream, Hoosier Sugar, Blueberry Dream, Deep Dish Blueberry, Vinegar pie
Row 4: Raspberry Custard, Coffee Creme Brulee, Peach Custard, Oreo Chiffon, Peanut Butter Cream
Row 5: Caramel Sweet Potato, Baked Chocolate Pecan, Millionaire Pie, Santigo Chocolate, Maple Walnut Oatmeal Pie

And the winners are...
Baked Chocolate Pecan won the Nut category and Best of Show
My daughter, Ellen (in the pink sweater), tied in the custard category for her Coffee Creme Brulee Pie
The other winner in the custard category was the Blueberry Streusel Pie
Peanut Butter Cream won in the Cream category
My mother-in-law (in the orange vest) won in the Heirloom category for her Aunt Ginny's Coconut Cream Pie
And my Raspberry Custard Pie won the Fruit category

2010 Pie Festival Winners

It was a great day! Thanks to all who helped organize this year's festival!

If you love red raspberries and cream, you'll love this dessert!

Red Raspberry Custard Tart
adapted from Classic Stars Desserts by Emily Luchetti
Makes one 9-inch tart

1 cup of fresh red raspberries
1 pre-baked tart crust in a 9-inch tart pan (recipe follows)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional- I omitted)

Preheat oven temperature to 325 degrees F. (Or reduce the temperature if the oven is already on from baking the tart crust.) Arrange the raspberries on the bottom of the baked tart crust and set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and cream until blended. Stir in the flour and salt. Carefully pour the cream mixture over the berries. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the top. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes until almost completely set. Let the tart cool and transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar if desired.

Tart Crust
makes one crust for a 9-inch tart
from The Book of Great American Desserts by Maida Heatter

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (one stick) cold butter, cubed
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350. Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and pulse just until the mixture comes together. Turn the mixture out onto a board and knead a few times, using a bench scraper if the dough sticks to the surface. Form the ball into a small disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and place carefully into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Cut the edges of the pastry off, prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and chill the pastry in the freezer for 30 minutes. Line the dough with foil and place pie weights or dried rice in the tart shell. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and the weights and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the crust is lightly browned.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ten Grain French Bread

Multi-grain French Bread

There is a deli north of Pittsburgh called the Wexford Post Office Deli. I've never been there, but my friend took my kids there earlier this summer. The food is good I've been told, but the service? Not so good. I've heard that the service is slow and the staff can be rude. For example...

Ellen, my 14-year-old, was picking out the sandwich she wanted to order and there were several choices of bread to choose from.

She asked the woman behind the counter, "What is the difference between Sourdough and French Bread?"

The woman behind the counter replied, "One is sour, and one is French."  Hmmm....not very helpful.

As Ellen told me the story, the mother in me thought the deli owners could be a little more helpful to a young person who is asking an honest question and is about to spend money in their restaurant.

The baker in me was wondering how I would answer that question. I know what sourdough is - it's bread that has a little tangy flavor. But how would I describe French bread? Is it primarily how the bread is shaped? Does it need to come from France? Is it the texture of the bread or the crust? Can French bread also be a sourdough?

The questions came to me again as I was making this recipe for Ten Grain French Bread, as the recipe was titled. I googled French bread and came up with these attributes:

Crisp and chewy crust
Interior is airy with holes throughout
Most often associated with the baguette, or a thicker elongated loaf, but can be shaped many ways
The traditional dough only contains flour, water, salt, and yeast (no oil or sugar)
It becomes dry or stale after one day (which is why the French buy their bread every day from a boulangerie)

Multi-grain French Bread

Based on the above attributes, this bread would not classify as French bread.  It has an elongated shape with tapered ends like French bread, but that's where the similarities end. This bread stayed moist for a week and the inside was not holey. Most of the 10-grain cereal used in this recipe is used to coat the outside of the loaf, which resulted in a wonderful chewy and flavorful crust. Toast this bread and make yourself a BLT with those abundant late summer tomatoes from the farmer's market, or try some of this bread toasted with butter and apricot jam. It's delicious any way you eat it!

10 Grain French Bread
from Marie Patten from Keizer, Oregon via Bob's Red Mill
This bread recipe was a prize winner at the 2005 Oregon State Fair.

Makes two good sized loaves

2 packages or 4 1/2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
2 cups Water
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 cups White Flour, Unbleached
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 cup 10-Grain Cereal
1 Egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups 10-Grain Cereal
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds (Raw Shelled), optional

In large mixer bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water (105°-115°F). Stir in sugar, salt, oil, and three cups of flour. Beat vigorously two to three minutes, scraping sides of bowls occasionally. Add remaining flours and 1/3 cup 10 grain cereal to make a stiff dough. Adjust water or flour until desired consistency if necessary. Allow dough to rest 10 minutes and stir down. Repeat resting and stirring down four more times.

Meanwhile, grease two large baking sheets or line with parchment paper and set aside. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead only enough to coat with flour (two or three times) so it can be handled. Divide in half, roll each into a 12”x 9” rectangle and roll up each from the long side like a jellyroll. Pinch seams to seal. Baste each loaf with beaten egg and coat with the two cups 10 grain cereal and sunflower seed mixture. (Cereal can be placed on wax paper or in an oblong baking dish for ease in coating. There will be cereal left over.)

Place loaves on baking sheets. With a very sharp knife, make three diagonal cuts on the top of each loaf. Cover and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size (about 30-45 minutes). Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from baking sheet and cool on racks.


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