My Cake Decorating Gallery

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Baker's January Challenge: Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Tuiles are thin crispy cookies that you can bend into shapes right as they come out of the oven, and while I was happy to see an attempt at a "lighter" baking challenge for January, I really wasn't in the mood to bake at all this month as I have no interest in eating any of it! Still trying to make up for a very festive 2008. If you're interested in any of the recipes I mention below, see the above blogs of Karen and Zorra. And so here my story goes...

I decided I'd "health-up" the Savory batter recipe by using ground Almond meal in place of flour and splenda in place of sugar. Part of the challenge was also to serve the Tuiles with a light and airy accompaniment so I chose to make a curry ginger cream with chopped celery leaves ... none of this worked out as I had planned, however.

I whipped up the savory recipe with my substitutions as noted above and the almond meal is just lumpy by nature and didn't blend with the butter so any attempts at creating a leaf shape like I had wanted flew out the whole window. "Oh well" I thought, and figured "let's just get one of these to work and I'll be done." I had wanted to make fall colored leaves and ended up with a blob of buttery almond paste. I cut pieces of parchment into squares so there'd be one per tuile - to make sliding them around for shaping easier. The peculiar batter baked and I quickly pulled out my first tuile and failed miserably trying to get it to curve around my rolling pin and circular jar I had nearby, it was a buttery mess. It broke into a few pieces so I had to start over... and I tried one of the pieces. Salt!!!!! Too much salt. Oh well, "I just need to get a picture" so I made a big blob for my 2nd tuile.

This one was a misshapen 4 or 5 inch disk and when the edges started to brown slightly (and butter seeped all over the pan since it didn't mesh with the almond..) I took it out and placed it inside of a mini fluted tart pan. I was able to create two ruffle effects in the disc and tried to shape it into a cup of sorts, for my ginger curry cream. I wasn't sure if it would ever harden but I thought it looked good enough and I'd just have to be careful when taking pictures of the finished product later. Unfortunately, later never came and I never did get that photo....

About 1 second after I took the bowl of the rest of the batter (they were so salty--and as a sidenote, I used the correct amount of kosher salt the recipe called for---I was not going to want to eat these things..) that is when The Husband walked up. All at once, he said "what did you make for me?" and grabbed hold of the parchment paper that my one lone tender and salty Tuile was resting on inside of the tart pan, and he immediately (and accidentally) broke it into at least 10 pieces. I called out in terror but it was too late... the batter bowl was filling with water in the sink. It was over!! I dumped the ginger curry cream in the sink and went to bed.

Well there's no point in crying over broken tuiles, and the next day I decided to skip my healthifying ways and make the original basic sweet recipe with no substitutions. I just wouldn't eat them!

The real flour and sugar batter came together much easier (as God intends them to!) and I even made a simple leaf stencil out of a random (cleaned) pamphlet I had laying around. After mixing the batter and chilling the pan and batter correctly, I smoothed out three leaves on three squares of parchment. As the recipe stated, I reserved some batter to mix with food coloring - I made a tablespoon of green, red, and orange - and used baggies to pipe leaf veins on top of my three batter leaves and popped them in the oven for about 6 minutes.

The thinner ones browned first but I pulled them all out and didn't have too much trouble getting them to bend, slowly at first, and twist slightly on top of my rolling pin, leaning against some other objects.

The colorful decorations even looked cute... at least... Tuiles! The Husband was out of the house so there were no worries there. I made three more tuiles in the same fashion, for photo-op purposes, and I also mixed up a filling. A lemon almond cream made with cream cheese, heavy cream, almond extract and lemon juice. I piped that out onto three of the tuiles in a rosette and topped the rosette with either triple berry jam or lemon curd.... and voila! The challenge was complete.

I quickly snapped some photos and then there was no going back, and by the time The Husband got home, it was safe for him to enter the kitchen again. He ate a few with jam and said "they're ok." I hate to be a drag but my heart wasn't into baking this month, so I am glad this challenge is over and that I actually had a finished product! Thanks for reading my silly story!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Tiny Taste of Chattanooga

I say "tiny" taste because I plan to go back and spend more time with Andrea and Jan as there was a whole lot left to see. Andrea and Jan just moved to Chattanooga and I snuck away on an extended weekend trip to visit.

It was an awesome trip - beautiful views (including the one above with is the view from their house!) and I got to stay at their new house which has another special ammenity: Asche Cafe where fresh cappucinos are made all day long! You also probably won't get a MoonPie (invented in Chattanooga!) left on your pillow at any hotel, either....
As a sidenote, Andrea and I agree that the MoonPies really need to make themselves taste better! What a let down!

The weather was not super cooperative in mid November but we did get some beautiful sight seeing in. Also, Andrea and I had plenty of time to catch up and we even did a little cooking club action! We made some fancy German tea, cappucinos, Sally's macaroni and cheese recipe, some great paninis, and some banana fosters waffles... which I actually got a picture of...

As far as eating out goes, we hit up a dinner theatre murder mystery comedy show - Vaudeville Cafe which was quite enjoyable. We also hit up Big River Brewing Works which was tasty as well.

We tried to get breakfast at Aretha Frankenstein's but it was too packed, but Andrea has sent me a pancake mix from Aretha which I am saving for a special occasion! We ended up having breakfast at Mudpie with the JAAM Breakfast Club-Chattanooga Chapter, but I will just leave that review out... not our favorite.

All weekend long, I had been hearing about this Killer Potato from Choo Choo BBQ. It was located right across from their main shopping center so we kept passing it but it wasn't until Saturday night when the time was right for some suicidal barbecue deliciousness. Between friends and neighbors, Andrea and Jan and I, we got 5 killer potatoes (and some fried okra just for some southern flare).

The killer potato is delicious... it's served in a big takeout box and consists of a large baked potato, probably covered in butter, smashed on the bottom of your takeout box. They top that with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a big pile of hot and saucy bbq pork. I was able to save a large chunk of mine for the next evening but there were some brave souls who ate their entire Killer Potato..... and it was killer indeed. :) Very delicious and a must-try!

Well, I can't wait to go back to Chattanooga and try out more bbq (I've been hearing a lot about this pretzel bbq pork sandwich....), aretha's, and more! I recommend that you stop in Chattanooga because it is quite a cute little town with a lot to offer.

Quick Banana Fosters Waffles
(also good on French Toast or Pancakes or the traditional Ice Cream)
See this website for the official Banana Fosters recipe, which is the one from Brennan's of New Orleans.

I don't really measure anything out - here are some estimates for you to start with:

2 bananas
2 oz butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon and fresh nutmeg
shredded sweetened coconut (optional and not part of the original recipe... but delicious!!)

The real recipe calls for some banana liqueur and dark rum but since you still need liquid for sauce, you can substitute more butter and sugar until you have the right amount of "sauce" for your needs.

Anyway, chop the bananas any way you'd like, and melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saute pan. Add the spices and once you have a warm bubbly sauce, throw in the bananas for 1 minute until they are heated through but not too long which may make them mushy.

Spoon your delicious banana goodness on top of waffles, french toast, ice cream, or anything! You will find you won't need syrup... and Andrea and I kicked it up a notch and sprinkled shredded sweetened coconut on top which is a must-try if you like coconut. Yummmmm!!

Choo Choo BBQ in Hixson, TN
5731 Hwy 153
Hixson, TN

Stop in for a killer potato now!!!
This modest BBQ restaurant doesn't waste money on frills - it's take-out only. Their little smokers seem to be puffing away all day and night right at the back of the building.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Birthday Dobos Torte

First off, this turned out far better than I could have hoped. I wanted to try something special and new for my birthday cake and couldn't really force that work on anyone else, plus then I would have missed all the fun of doing it. I finally decided on a classic cake, Dobos Torte, that my family used to order during Christmas when we were kids. All I knew about it was that it has very thin layers of cake with chocolate frosting and it's covered in chocolate as well, but I was able to find out a lot more from this website which offered some real history of the Dobos Torte (pronounced 'Dobosh'), which is actually Hungarian in origin.

This Dobos Torte was absolutely delicious and rivals the Daring Bakers' Carmelized Butter/Caramel cake from November and one of my two top favorite cakes ever. I looked online for a good Dobos Torte recipe and finally chose the one from Food Network by Wolfgang Puck, from his episode "Wolfgang Puck's Austria: A Journey Home"

The general idea of the recipe was to make a airy cake batter and spread it into 6 circles that I had traced on parchment paper and then bake them. This meant whipping egg whites separate from the yolks and carefully folding them together. I tried to bake 4 circles at a time but the edges of my parchment were crisping up... next time I would lower the temperature and cook them for longer. I ended up with dark edges and soft centers, but that was no problem - I just trimmed the edges and you couldn't tell in the cake. I did not have cake flour or a vanilla on hand but regular flour and vanilla extract seemed to do just fine.

The next step was to make the buttercream ... I know... it has raw eggs... creepy, right? I don't care, it was a silky smooth delicious buttercream and I'd definitely make it again. I kept the frosting and cake refrigerated the whole time.

Lastly, and we didn't have this on our "ordered Dobos Tortes" in my childhood, but apparently the classic Dobos Torte has one of the cake layers covered in caramel on top of the cake.. either flat or at an angle like I did it, cut into wedges. This was the trickiest part of the recipe, as it was the "dry method" for making caramel which usually results in burning 1 batch and things not working out right. My one batch that I ended up using was a little overdone plus it was hard to spread - it cools so quickly that you don't have time to butter a knife and cutting the wedges into anything smaller than 6 pieces would've been impossible... as it was, the edges were coarse and not cutting cleanly. Oh well, luckily this cake was just for me so I didn't have to obsess over details. Next time I'd probably try a different method and aim to make a caramel that was semi-soft instead of brittle.

I tasted the cake layer edge and frosting both separately, and I thought "well, I hope it'll be OK".. nothing to write home about yet... But behold -- once it was sliced and I was trying the finished product, it seemed to rise to a whole new level and it brought me right back to those Dobos Tortes we used to enjoy as children-- except better! It was totally delicious and what seemed so simple - thin layers of light spongey cake with chocolate buttercream -- turned out to be a unique flavor and so decadent.

So being a Two-Days-Before-Christmas baby isn't so bad - I had the day off to make my own cake and I was my own happy customer this time. I highly recommend this recipe, or at least stopping by for a piece the next time I make it.

Dobos Torte
as seen here, by Wolfgang Puck

Cake :

12 ounces unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 ounces powdered sugar
10 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
7 ounces cake flour, sifted

Chocolate Buttercream:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 pound butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon rum, optional

Caramel Topping:
6 ounces sugar

Cake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mark the outline of a 9-inch cake pan on parchment paper. Repeat until you have 6 marked circles.
Place butter and vanilla in mixing bowl. Warm over low heat to soften. Transfer to a mixer and whip for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and continue to whip another 5 minutes, until smooth and well blended. Lower the speed and add the egg yolks. Continue to whip for 2 to 3 minutes, until light.

In another mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and increase speed of the mixer. Whip until stiff but not dry. Fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold flour into the egg mixture. Divide the batter equally among the 6-marked circles. With an offset spatula, spread the batter about 1/4-inch thick to fill in the marked circle. Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until light golden in color. Allow to cool. Transfer each cake circle onto a 9-inch cake board. Reserve.

Chocolate Buttercream: In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Boil to 240 degrees F or soft ball stage on a candy thermometer. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, beat the eggs and egg yolk until light and ribbony. Lower the speed and gradually pour the hot syrup into the egg mixture. Increase the speed and whip mixture until room temperature. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time. Then add the melted chocolate and rum, if desired. Continue to whip until smooth and well blended.

Caramel Topping: Cook sugar until is amber in color. Pour caramel over 1 of the reserved cake layers. Run edge of a chef's knife in butter. With the help of the buttered edge knife, spread the caramel to cover the entire surface of the cake circle. Allow to cool to set the caramel. Cut into 12 equal pie cuts. Reserve.

To assemble torte: Reserve half of the Chocolate Buttercream. Using some of the remaining buttercream, spread a 1/8-inch layer on top of the first cake layer. Continue layering the remaining the 4 remaining cake circles and spreading the buttercream. When all 5 cake layers have been frosted, frost the sides and top of the cake. Use a pastry comb to finish the sides of the layered cake. Mark the top of the cake into 12 pie sections. Pipe the remaining buttecream on top of each pie section and arrange the caramel slices on top of the piped cream at an angle.