Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake : Daring Bakers 1st challenge

I feel good about my first Daring Bakers challenge. I loved the recipe at the first sight, the explications were easy to follow. The only thing hard to make was the buttercream. First it was too loose and then too firm. But I managed it. I let it stayed in the fridge for some time.
I never baked this kind of cake before. It was a huge cake with 2 adults and 2 kids in the family we were able to eat only half of it! But it was delicious !!! Even my kids not too fond of desserts ( they love only chocolaty dessert) loved it!

Instead of using Rasperry jam I made some Strawberries maemelade, pureed it in the blender and it gave in my opinion a wonderful flavor.

Perfect Party Cake

For the cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon lemon juice

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
1 cup homemade Strawberries marmelade. Blended.
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Simplest and Delicious Tarte aux Pommes . Tout Simplement.

I guess I am truly and really attached to my mother’s cooking. After the simple vegetables soup she is making, voici the Apple Tart. So simple so delicious. A wonderful smell and aroma all over your kitchen while you bake it, and the anticipation…... Of a warm Apple Tart.
Long time ago my mother was doing all her tarts with Pate feuilletee ( Puff Pastry) only, it was a ritual and that was it. Her Pate Feuillete was buttery and delicious. Recently when visiting my parents I noticed that my mother stopped doing her Pate feuilletee and was making Pate Brisee. I was skeptical because I am not used to this type of crust. But her tart was delicious, and crispy.
She shared with me her recipe.

Apple Tart Tarte aux Pommes

For dough:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water
For filling:
2 apples (any firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and very thin sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (small pieces)
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of heavy cream

Mix together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of butter. Blend with hands until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter and mix until pieces are pretty big.
Add some water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers. If dry patches are too many add another tablespoon water. Keep blending and tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a thick disk; wrap in aluminum foil and refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold.
On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour .
Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan. Cut all around the pan your dough. Heat oven to 400°F
Cover apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge. Continue inward until you reach the center.
Add small butter pieces over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle sugar over dough and over apples. Sprinkle cinnamon.
Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust gets a golden brown (about 45 minutes)
Remove tart from oven, add some sugar and heavy cream.

Of course you can serve this tart still warm with some Vanilla ice Cream. Pure Bliss.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Une envie de Soupe

Last Saturday night I had a urgent need of soup. The same my mother makes and use to make. She is the master of this one, in fact I was never able to duplicate the same way, it never taste as good as at Home even if I use the same thing!
Anywhere soups are easy and delicious. You just need to clean the vegetables, peel them and cut, chop them. You saute them and add some water and you leave the soup on its own.Voila!
This is a sure way to eat you 5 vegetable serving daily, this is a comfort food, all the family loves it and it stores very well in refrigerator and is actually improved with time. You can even freeze it.

My mother Vegetables Soup

2 cups water
2 potatoes -- medium size
5 carrots -- diced
1 small onion -- diced
1 celery stalks -- diced
1 leek
2 garlic cloves
½ turnip
¾ Olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt -- or to taste
1 tablespoon Chicken flavor Bouillon
21 spices from Trader Joe’s
1 teaspoon dry basil

1. Clean well your leek under running water head down. Keep the green and the white. Dice it.
2.Peel all other vegetables, and dice them.
3. Add olive oil in a heavy, large pan with lid. Add all the chopped vegetables. Saute on medium heat until vegetables are softened and onion browned lightly.
4.2 cups of water, the water must be just above the vegetables in the pan
5. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until all the vegetables are done. Add the salt and pepper.
6. With your hand blender, blend the mixture

Crème fraiche, sour cream and heavy cream can be added in your plate. Serve with crispy buttered slices of toasted fresh bread

N.B Leaving near Mexico it is easier to find " crema Mexicana" that " Creme Fraiche"