January 29, 2012

Daring Bakers' January 2012 Challenge - Scones

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

I managed to find British strawberry jam, but unfortunately no clotted cream...
Now, I've written about scones before on my blog, but thought this would be an interesting opportunity to test a new recipe variation. I liked the idea of getting more layered scones, but unfortunately it didn't work out as expected. My scones looked and tasted pretty much the same as always (which isn't a bad thing!). Maybe I used too much flower. It couldn't have been the recipe as it seemed to have worked for many other Daring Bakers. Details can be found here. I used the basic recipe with the addition of ca. 20g of brown sugar.

Ah well, the scones were delicious as always. Thank you for hosting our January challenge, Audax!

November 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' November 2011 Challenge - Sans Rival

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

I chose to do the Sans Rival with the traditional flavouring of vanilla and cashew nuts. The details of the recipe can be found here.

The Sans Rival basically consists of two components: meringues plates filled with vanilla flavoured buttercream. Now, this is the third time I tried my hands at making meringues in one or the other form. Maybe it's the fact that meringues are not among my favourite desserts, but I wasn't surprised, when I struggled with what appeared to be a simple recipe. I baked the meringue plates according to the instructions and they turned a lovely brown, but were still quite humid and not as crispy as they should be. I left them to dry for a couple of days but when I wanted to assemble the Sans Rival, they were still gooey. So I baked them again for about an hour at about 100°C leaving the oven door slightly ajar. They turned darker, but in the end they were dry and crisp.

Even though I'd never made buttercream before, the recipe was quite straightforward and I got an excellent result.

The assembled dessert was a huge success at my friend's brunch and at my office - everybody loved it. While I also liked the taste and constancy of the Sans Rival, I found it a bit rich and heavy with all the buttercream. But the cashew nuts in the meringue added a nice contrast.

Thanks for another fun challenge - Catherine!

October 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' October 2011 Challenge - Povitica

Even my little ghost family was interested in this dessert
The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica consists of a simple yeast dough, rolled out thinly and filled with a mix of walnuts, sugar and spices. Details and the recipe can be found here.

It is indeed a delicious recipe and also quite simple to make (I used the quarter batch measurements). The only change was to let the dough rise over night in the fridge, which worked extremely well.

Thanks for another great challenge!

September 30, 2011

Daring Bakers' September 2011 Challenge - Croissants

My first (and probably only) homemade croissants
The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I'm horribly late posting this challenge, but I'm just glad that I made it at all. It's been busy lately... To be honest I was always a bit afraid of making my own puff pastry, but I was astonished at how well this recipe works (details can be found here). Even though I spread making the croissants over three days, they still felt, tasted and looked like real croissants. Of course the store-bought variety is a bit fluffier but they were quite good for a first try. Especially the ones with the chocolate in them... :-)

June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' June 2011 Challenge - Baklava

Sweet, sweet Baklava
This months Daring Bakers Challenge was called "From Phyllo to Baklava". We had to prepare this turkish/moroccan/eastern european treat from scratch, the main difficulty being to roll the dough as thinly as possible.

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava. The detailed recipe can be found here.

I was amazed at how well the recipe worked. I didn't think it would be possible to make such a simple dough that can be stretched out so thinly. But it worked flawlessly. The only downside was that I had sore muscles for about three days after preparing the Baklava. First, the dough had to be kneaded for 20 minutes by hand. After letting the dough rest for a while, rolling the individual sheets took me about 1.5 hours. The next day I had sore muscles not only in my arms and shoulders, but even in my abdomen and fingers…

Techniquewise the recipe was rather simple. I more or less stuck to the suggested filling (omitting the allspice berries, because I couldn't find any) and varying a little on the weights for the various nuts. I basically tried to use up, what I already had in my cupboard. Unfortunately I can't give you the exact measurements as I'm currently on vacation in Sweden and my notes are still in my flat in Zurich, even though I knew I was going to write up this post here. I need a better checklist next time…

I might have overbaked the Baklava a little because I expected them to get a darkbrowner colour on top. This might have also been due to the fact that my oven only works with bottom heat as it is a rather old gas oven.

The other thing that went slightly wrong was the soaking in sirup. Not thinking about the whole procedure very much, I used a springform pan to bake the Baklava. Since springform pans are put together from two separate parts, they are not closely sealed and so, when I poured the sirup over the hot Baklava, it leaked from the underside of the pan… I ended up transferring the Baklava to a lower pan and soaking in in there. Of course this meant that only about the lower half of my Baklava was actually soaking in the sirup, with the upper half remaining dry. I poured some sirup over it every now and then, but obviously this never could have the same effect as soaking over night.

Ah well, the end result was pretty tasty anyway and everybody at work loved it!

Thanks for another exciting challenge, Erica!