Dienstag, 24. November 2009

TWD: All-in-one Holiday Bundt Cake

I am still a cameo-participant of TWD, but never mind, I go on baking and trying to improve my cake-abilities and maybe someday I will do it on the blog-roll :o]!

This week, the fourth of the November recipes was on the schedule, the All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake from pages 186 and 187, chosen by  Britin of The Nitty Britty.

I had some trouble with the ingredients:
I have never ever seen canned pumpkin purree in my whole life, but some other bakers were so kind to help me out and affirm my decision to take self-made purree. I wasn't sure about the consistence of canned purree, but the self-made version turned out to be fine. I just put the pumpkin in the oven instead of cooking it in a pan, as I would usually do, so it didn't get too moisty.
Then, it is really not that easy to get pecans. DM doesn't have them, the usual supermarkets for sure definitely don't have them. But even at the Naschmarkt I didn't find them, what really came as a surprise as usually there is nothing you can't get there. (Maybe I didn't look thoroughly enough?). At my almost last hope, a high-end bio"grocery", they usually sell it - but they ran out of stock. Finally, I found it in a little shop specialized on sweets and decorations for bakers. It the very last minute.
And then again the cranberries. Cranberries are just not very usual in these latitudes. But I found dried ones, and this time not-sugared ones.
I skipped the optional maple-icing, as maple-syrup is again not very usual (though not that hard to get, but still very expensive).

So I had everything together, but I hope I won't have to do such a schlepp through the city every week!
(I won't, at least in December - I already had a look at the upcoming recipes for next month, and I got to say - wow, I am really already looking forward to December!!)

So, here is how it turned out:
As always I made a "real" one, and some little ones for trial and error and tasting. I halfed the recipe but still got a "children-bundt cake" and some made in a mold for brioche out of it.

Here the big one, straigth out of the oven (will it come out of the mold? Will it break? Will it stick to the pan? Panic!)

No, everything went fine!

And here the inside-look and one of the little ones (some I topped with dark cranberry-chocolate. It was ok, but the chocolate would not have been necessary - made me learn to stick to the recipe...)

I know, I know, I still have to  work on the presentation and the looks of my cakes and tartes, but for the moment I am sososo, well, what to say...  proud is not the rigth word, maybe more: astonished, that it is really me who makes these delicious cakes, that I am satisfied with that.

If you want to see what it looks like if really excellent bakers do it, just have a look at some of the other bakers result! Some Most are really just amazing!!

Dienstag, 17. November 2009

TWD: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake, or: If the kichen isn't a mess afterwards, you made something wrong

Wow, my first real TWD cake. The last two weeks I did fudge a bit on it, as I decided to do the cookies and the crisp. I don't want to say that cookies and crisps can't be a challenge and if you really want to make them excellent, not just ok, than you also have to put some effort (and love and soul :o]) in it. But they are knowen bround for me. In the end I know, that I can do them at least as good that hungry colleagues in the office take them.

But this week I had to show some guts and try the recipe, that sounds like the most challenging cake recpipe I ever read - the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

It was a two days project! And it was fun! Yeah, I am serious.
Everybody chooses its own demons, isn't it?

Day 1: Preparing the ganache that has to be chilled over night.

Chopping different kinds of chocolate (right: milk chocolate with caramel).

 Making caramel.

Bringing everything together.

Day 2: The rest.

Making the glaze and the cake itself.

Baking and cutting the cake.

Assembling the parts with the ganache. (what a mess...)

Chilling. Glazing. (again, what a mess...)

And then - into the fridge over night. 

(that's not a dirty plate - that's decoration ;o])
Until  Monday afternoon, it didn't know if it turned out fine, as I didn't try it. But, what can go wrong if you bring together chocolate, chestnuts and caramel? 

I like to do a small piece for trial and error, and a "normal" one. The round cake is the test-case I just enjoyed 5 minutes ago. And I loved it!!
Next time, I would use more chestnuts and a bit more caramel. But anyways, I am sososo proud of me, I can't tell anyone!

[I exchanged the milk chocolate for the ganache with milk chocolate that has caramel pieces added. I did cut the cake in only two pieces (mine simply wasn't high enough to be cutted in three parts). And I left out some of the sugar in the recipe, as I doubt if American recipes just have too much sugar for European tastes (something that was also a topic at the dessert-discussion in Paris). For the decoration I opted for "Schoko-Maroni", a typical Viennese sweet. First I wanted to take Marrons Glacés, but the guy at the chocolate shop convinced me, that candied chestnuts are not comparable to Eibensteiner Maroni. And he is right, as almost nothing is comparable to them!)]

Samstag, 14. November 2009

Paris Patisserie - a discussion on dessert

When  I recently was in Paris for a much too short time, I was lucky enough to see David Lebovitz participating in a discussion about French Pastry. It was real luck, because when I was living in Paris this summer, in my second week, just a few days after I discovered his blog, he also had a reading. And this time, it was one of his co-discussant I just discovered for me shortly before - Dorie Greenspan.

So I headed to the American Library, and just as in May I again felt completely in the worng place at the wrong time, because everybody in the room was American. Or at least native English speaking. And the few who weren't - were French. I don't think there was any other person whose mother tongue was neither English nor French.

But what do you have to expect when three Americans living in Paris speak about French Patisserie?

And, as always when I am in the companion of  US-Americans - after a few minutes I did remember what I do like so much about them. Their friendliness (yes, even and maybe especially by New Yorkers - you just don't know how rude other people in other big cities are!). Their relaxed and laid-back behaviour. Their optimism (which can, in the worst case, come along as a dumb happy-peppy, but in most cases is just a refreshing, inspiring way of seeing things).
And, it did remind me that book readings and discussions are so much more unstressed, unwound and open to everybody over there. Come in, take a glass of wine and some snacks, listen to people who like to entertain you (and are not just there to lackadaisically show their intellectual superiority - something also some parts of the audience like to do in a maddening way).

So, I had two hours of American lifestyle in the middle of Paris - how much better can it get?

(And the stalker in me brought up all my courage to ask for a dedication in my all new book on chocolate desserts!)

Montag, 9. November 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps

As I am no official member yet, I reserve myself the right to deviate a bit from the rules - and blog on Monday.
(Tuesday's gonna really be a problem... but let's see how it works out )

I am still a bit afraid of all these intimidating recipes and cookies with a lot of cream and preparation. So I tried again one of the easier tasks for November - the Cran-Apple Crisps

As usually, my attempts do not really look very well.
For the moment, I don't care. For the moment I am fine if the test objects turn into something someone may want to eat.

And the crisp did.

I love the coconut-topping! But I saved the bigger part for the next day and over night, the crisp seems to get even sweeter than it was straight from the oven.
This is not such a good point as I had used dried cranberries, that were heavily sugared, which I did not figure out before I tasted the extremely sweet crisp today.

Moreover, it seemes that everything I tried out so far turns out to be very, very sweet. Maybe this is because upt to now my significant experiments were all American recipes, and it seems that Americans like their sweets much sweeter than the ordinary European taste. And, I do not really got for extra-sweet stuff anyways. So, I am going to reduce the sugar-amount for the next recipes and hope it doesn't spoil the result.

And now, bon courage, because at some point I have to make my attemps official...

Freitag, 6. November 2009

Teatime - by Pain de Sucre

When I was in Paris last week (what I, as always, enjoyed, enjoyed, enjoyed), I ate my way through many of the great bakeries I got to know when I was living in Paris this summer. (I will post a list of some of them some other day.)

At a book reading I attended (also something I should come back to the next days...) I heard a young women praising a place that was definitely not on this list. I more or less ignored since I once went there in May and had the feeling that (i) the shop itself was very snobby, (ii) the staff was very unfriendly, even by Parisian standards (I don't like to be treated like inferior to the salesperson - no matter if it is an high-end clothing store or a patisserie), and (iii) the products didn't offset the first two points. They didn't have any normal bread (well, ok, it's a patisserie, not a boulangerie. But still - they make sort of "bread", but did look very snotty if asked for petits pains), they had a lot of strange-flavoured marshmallows (and I don't even go for "normal" marshmallows) and besides that only big cakes and no individuelles (and, sorry, but what should I do with a whole cake?)

But the podium as well as audience supported the young women's valuation.
So I decided to give it one more try.
I went there last Saturday. And on Sunday, I couldn't wait the opened up so I could come back.

What a misconception!
The salespersons where just lovely and nice. Both times.
The cakes came in every size.
I dind't spot any marshmallow in the whole shop.
I had wonderful filled little breads.
And the best little cake-something I ate in a long, long time - the Teatime.

Maybe the red-green combination is not that crazy and innovative. Maybe it's not that singular to combine pistachio and cherries.
But it was so humid, so fruity, and the different tastes did match so perfectly...

So, thanks to the unknown young women for being so enthusiastic about Pain de Sucre!

Mittwoch, 4. November 2009

Getting Started - TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasse Spice Cookies

So, the ultimate reason why I start this blog is that I would like to participate at "Tuesday with Dorie" - kind of an internet-club, where people bake their way through "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dori Greenspan.Up to now, they don't know about my aspiration, as I am still kind of too shy to "reveal". But I decided, after following the site some time, I am going to get started, without officially joining yet. What gives me the time to try it out and see if it works for me.

Why I want to participate is easy. I like baking (what I did not really figure out until very recently), I like to become a better baker, and I need some fix dates in my life and commitments, otherwise I never stick to what I once decided.
So, here is the commitment: Blog every Tuesday the recipe of the week. That's all.

Well, on Monday, when I thought about starting this week, I had a look at the recipe of the week.
And decided, to start next week.
Lucky me, in November participants are exceptionally allowed to pick any November-recipe and switch weeks. Lucky me, because when today I read some of the blogs, I found out that the actual recipe for this week was obviously not only too demanding for me. Not that all the others didn't arrive at making it perfectly right. But at least I saw some comments like "it was the most demanding I ever made for TWD", "I never spent so much time for only one cake" or "it was a two-days-project".
So. As I am no official participant I granted myself the right to start on Wednesday and pick out the November recipe that sounded most like I could manage it.

And here we are.

Sugar-Topped Molasse Spice Cookies

My first baking tray was, um, how to say...

Looks like a pizza, you say?
Or a football?

Yeah, right.

But the second and third tray turned out pretty well.

Or, at least I am mostly satisfied with it! And, most importantly, they are tasty! Cookies don't have to look picture-perfect anyways.
(and I am not only saying that because mine don't! ;o])

And don't they perfectly match with my kitchen furniture??