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Archive for the ‘Torte’ Category

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The infamous Viennese Sachertorte is taking center stage today. This is a very traditional cake that has been made famous by the argument of who originated the recipe. This is between the Sacher hotel and the Demel Bakery, and it has even gone before the courts to decide, with intense legal battles ensuing between 1954 and 1963. In the end, the Sacher hotel won the rights to call it’s cake the “original” sachertorte  and gave the Demel the rights to decorate its tortes with a triangular seal that reads Eduard-Sacher-Torte.

In the end, it is a chocolate sponge cake brushed with apricot glaze and covered in a chocolate glaze. Perfect after a night of music at the Vienna opera house. Better yet, at your house after a delicious meal with friends.

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This months Baker’s challenge is hosted by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. Korena is a crazy good baker, so I insist that you must visit her blog and show her lots of praise. She deserves it.

It has to be 15 years since I made a sachertorte, so this was a treat to bake. It really is a pretty dessert. Please visit Korena’s page to see her recipe for a 9 inch torte. Since I have don’t have a need for such a large cake, I made a 6 inch version, which will easily serve 6 people.

Overall, it is a pretty simple cake to bake if you break it down. You will need 2 bowls to make the cake; one to whip the egg whites, another for the eggs/butter/flour portion. I whipped my whites, then transferred them to a clean bowl while I then mixed up the remaining batter. The apricot glaze is just strained jam. The boiled chocolate glaze is traditional, but does require a candy thermometer. I am going to say that if you don’t have a candy thermometer that you could just use a chocolate ganache poured over it with the same results. It’s all about working recipes around what you have. So my friends, Bake On!

SACHERTORTE

Chocolate sponge:

3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup (2.2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4  cup (1 oz) almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz (3/4 stick ) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Apricot Filling/glaze:

2/3 cup apricot preserves (I actually used low sugar spread and I  eyeballed the amount)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon rum

strong>Boiled chocolate icing:

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (30 g)  cocoa powder
1/3 cup (80 ml) water

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease and flour (I prefer to use cocoa powder) a 6 inch springform pan.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until firm peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the butter and the remaining sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, until well mixed. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined, then gently fold in the beaten egg whites until no white streaks are left. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, level off the top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until tested with a clean toothpick. Let cool for 10 minutes then loosen the ring and let cool completely.

Invert the cake onto a cake board or plate (the bottom is now the top). Slice the cake horizontally in two.

Sept 26, 2014

make the filling/glaze

Put the preserves and the water in a bowl and heat until warm. Give it a good stir, mix in the rum, then strain to get out any big fruit bits.

Place the bottom layer of cake (on the cake board) onto a wire cooling rack  set over a piece of wax paper.This is to catch the drips; if you skip this step you will have a mess on your hands! Brush the top of the layer with some of the warm jam. Let it set up for 5 minutes before placing the top on. Remember, your top layer started out as the bottom of the cake. Brush the entire outside of the cake with the remaining jam mixture. Let this set while you make the chocolate icing.

October 27, 2014

make the boiled chocolate icing

Place the sugar, chocolate, cocoa powder and water into a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir until blended and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the sauce registers 220 F on a candy thermometer.

Pour the hot sauce (be careful!) into a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and glossy. Stirring makes it thick and smooth.

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Pour the chocolate icing over the top of the cake and spread with a spatula to cover the cake completely. Work as quickly as possible as to get the smoothest surface. Let stand until the icing is set (about 20 minutes) Lift the cake with two flat spatulas onto a serving plate. ..

NOW… if you want to get fancy (and who doesn’t?) you can melt a little chocolate and pipe it over the top to write out “sachertorte” or some pretty designs. Feel free to thin the chocolate out a little with a pinch of coconut oil or shortening. I used semisweet chocolate for my writing so it would show up better against the dark chocolate glaze. It really looks just a pretty without it so don’t stress yourself out if you are afraid of piping on your now beautiful cake.

Serve with a large dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

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The princess torte has been on my bucket list for some time now so I was tickled pink (notice my non traditional color) when I found what or Baker’s Challenge this month was . Our very talent host this month is Korena, of Korena in the Kitchen, and she chose the Swedish Prinsesstårta for us. Exciting, exciting, exciting… It has lovely  layers of sponge cake, jam, pastry cream and fluffy whipped cream all covered in a layer of marzipan. Is there anything not to like about this??? Oh, I guess that it doesn’t hurt that this cake is so damn pretty look at you almost don’t want to eat it. This is traditional covered in a green colored marzipan but I thought the pink reflect so much better with my flavor choices. The sponge cake is flavored with raspberries, the jam is rhubarb-raspberry, and the whipped cream is infused with rosewater. Everything pink for a princess. It is also supposed to be topped with a marzipan rose for decoration but I love to make gumpaste flowers so I chose to do this instead. Please check out Korena’s tutorial on the marzipan rose.

The best part about this is that it is actually” kind of”  easy to put together. The real challenge here is covering the cake with marzipan. If you have never covered a cake with this or fondant it can seem scary, but that should not hold you back from trying. It just takes a little practice. I bet this would be amazing assembled as a trifle if you too afraid of trying to cover the cake – but try it at least. Once you get the hang of it you will want to cover everything you bake. Well, maybe not, but you will be glad you know how to do this and it will impress your guests. Hey did you know that the princess torte is as popular in Finland as well as Sweden – so much so that the third week in September is officially Prinsesstårta Week. Oh, the things we learn….

So, it’s best to break this cake down into components so that when you are ready to assemble everything is ready to go. First is the marzipan covering the cake. Marzipan is a sort of sweeter version of almond paste. Almond paste is made with granulated sugar and marzipan is made with confectioners sugar (a lot of it). You can buy marzipan but it is pretty expensive and it’s  easy to make your own if you have a food processor. You can make it well ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.  You could even use fondant if almond allergies are an issue. Next is the custard; again,you make it up to 2 days in advance. The sponge cake can be baked the day ahead and that really just leaves the whipped cream, which should be made at time of assembly. DSC_2585Oh wait, and the jam. Any store-bought jam can be used though traditionally it is seedless raspberry jam. BUT, since rhubarb season is in full swing here (at least in my backyard) , I made my own rhubarb-raspberry spread. This allows me to control the sugar since I like my jam on the tart side and it only takes about 30 minutes to make. You just put fruit and some sugar in a pot and let it bubble away until soft. If it is too thin I will make a slurry of cornstarch and water and add a little bit to thicken it up.

I also stabilized the whipped cream. This is done by adding some dissolved gelatin to the cream and will keep your whipped cream good and sturdy for a few days. I highly recommend doing this step but it’s your choice.

I know this seems like a lot, but challenge yourself. It will be easier than you think. Read through the entire recipe (twice) before starting.  Bake On!

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Egg-free Marzipan Recipe

(adapted from Cake Central)

4 oz (115 gm) ground almonds
8 oz (225 gm)  icing sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon (5 ml) almond extract
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice or water

Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine and break up any lumps. Add the corn syrup and almond extract and pulse again to combine. The mixture should be quite dry and crumbly still.

With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the lemon juice, stopping as soon as the mixture starts to clump together.Scrape the marzipan out onto a work surface and knead it into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavours ripen. Makes just over 1 lb.

Vanilla Custard

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream, divided (I used 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup whole milk)
4 egg yolks from large eggs
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) cornstarch
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) granulated white sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolks. Gradually whisk in ½ cup (120 ml) of heavy cream until smooth. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) of heavy cream and the scraped vanilla bean and bring just to the boiling point. Remove the vanilla bean pod, leaving behind the seeds. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the bowl with the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it becomes thick like pudding and just comes to a boil. The mixture must hit a boil for the cornstarch to properly thicken the custard, and also to cook out any starchy taste. If it starts to look curdled or lumpy, remove it from the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth, then return to the heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the top of the custard (to prevent a skin from forming ) and chill completely.

Sponge Cake

You will need a 9 inch springform panDSC_2579-001

Fine dry breadcrumbs for the pan (such as crushed panko) I did not have any breadcrumbs on hand so I used finely crushed rice krispies – they worked great!

4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz)  granulated white sugar
½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup (120 ml) (65 gm) (2¼ oz) potato starch (or cornstarch, which is what I used)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt

For a raspberry version:

I added 4 Tablespoons  raspberry puree and 1 tsp natural raspberry extract . To compensate for the additional liquid I added 1 Tablespoon potato flour (which is not the same as potato starch)DSC_2624

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Thoroughly butter a 9” (23 cm) round springform pan, line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, then butter the paper. Dust the buttered pan with enough breadcrumbs (or rice krispies!) to coat the bottom and sides, just like flouring a cake pan. Set aside. This gives the batter something to cling to as it rises during baking.

Place the eggs and granulated white sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment until the eggs are tripled in volume and very light coloured and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The mixture should fall from the beaters in thick ribbons. Don’t overbeat the eggs – once they form thick ribbons and stop growing in volume, stop beating.

Sift the all-purpose (plain) flour, potato starch (or cornstarch) , baking powder, and salt into a bowl, then sift the flour mixture over the whipped eggs. With a balloon whisk, fold the flour into the eggs until blended, keeping as much air in the batter as possible. Use large, gentle yet confident strokes, bringing batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Add the puree and extract, if using. Once mixed, the batter should be quite thick and smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread it out evenly, and bake in the lower third of the preheated moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 oven for about 40 minutes or until golden brown on top, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes then run a knife around the edge and remove the sides of the springform pan. Don’t worry if it sinks a bit in the middle. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. If the cake is lopsided, press gently to make it level, then allow it to cool completely before continuing. The cake can be made a day ahead and stored, well-wrapped in plastic, at a cool room temperature.

Assembly:

  • 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream, chilled
    2 Tablespoons rosewater (if you want rose whipped cream)
    granulated white sugar, to taste (scant 1 tablespoon is plenty)
  • Sponge Cake, cooled
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) seedless raspberry jam (or regular jam pressed through a sieve to remove seeds)
  • Vanilla Custard, chilled
  • Marzipan Covering and Rose Icing sugar, for rolling and dusting

Optional: melted chocolate, royal icing, or piping gel (for decorating)

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar to taste (keep in mind that the rest of the cake components are sweet, so the whipped cream should be very lightly sweetened at most) and continue whipping the cream until stiff. Stabilize it with the gelatin if desired. You want it to be sturdy enough to provide structure to the cake, but not over-whipped enough to make butter. Set the whipped cream aside.

With a long serrated knife, slice the sponge cake into three even layers. This cake is very delicate, so do this as carefully as possible. Use a gentle sawing motion to move the knife through the cake instead of trying to pull it through the cake. Use a spatula to help you lift off each layer after you cut it. Set aside the middle layer – this will become the top layer of the assembled cake as it is the most flexible and therefore easiest to bend into a dome over the whipped cream.2013-05-20

Place one of remaining layers on a cake board or serving platter and spread it evenly with the jam. Spread or pipe half the chilled custard over the jam in an even layer, leaving enough room around the edges so that it doesn’t spill over the sides of the cake. Top the custard with another layer of cake. Spread or pipe the remaining custard evenly over it, again leaving some room around the edges.  Reserve ½ cup (120 ml) of the stiffly whipped cream. Pile the rest into a mound on top of the custard. Spread it into a thick layer with a thin, flexible spatula or off-set spatula, then hold the spatula at an angle to shape the whipped cream into a dome, piling it up in the middle of the cake as much as possible.  Place the final layer of sponge cake (the one cut from the middle of the cake) on top of the whipped cream. Do not press on the top of the cake – instead, gently tuck the edges of the cake layer into the whipped cream, so that they are flush with the cream. This will create a smooth, seamless dome on top of the cake. Gently spread the reserved ½ cup (120 ml) of whipped cream over the entire cake to fill in any cracks and even out the surface. If necessary, refrigerate the cake to firm it up before continuing ( I did this for an hour before moving on).

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Dust your work surface with icing sugar and press the marzipan into a 6-inch (15 cm) disc (knead it a bit to warm it up first). Coat both sides with icing sugar and roll it out into a 14” (35½ cm) diameter circle less than 1/8” (3 mm) thick. Use plenty of icing sugar to prevent it from sticking. Alternatively, you can roll the marzipan out between two wide sheets of parchment paper (still use plenty of icing sugar).
Use the rolling pin to drape the rolled-out marzipan sheet over the cake and smooth it around the cake gently with your hands.If it seems like it wants to fold or buckle around the cake, gently lift and stretch it away from the cake with one hand while smoothing it down with the other.DSC_2612

Trim the excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake with a paring knife or spatula blade. Dust the cake with icing sugar, then place the marzipan rose and leaves in the middle of the cake.
(You can also use melted chocolate, royal icing, or piping gel to pipe a design on top of the cake, if you wish.)

To serve, cut the cake into wedges with a large, sharp knife (run the blade under hot water and wipe it clean after every cut for neater slices). The cake can be served immediately but will be easier to slice after chilling in the refrigerator for at least an hour.The finished Prinsesstårta should be refrigerated until serving, and any leftovers refrigerated as well. Ideally the cake is eaten the day it is made, but will keep in the refrigerator for a day or so, after which it may lose its structural integrity and aesthetic appeal,but it will still taste good. If you stabilize your cream it will be picture perfect for at least 3 days.

Here is a cross-section diagram to illustrate the layered components of a prinsesstårta:

  • Marzipan                                 (top)
  • Sponge cake
  • Whipped cream
  • Custard/pastry cream
  • Sponge cake
  • Custard/pastry cream
  • Raspberry jam
  • Sponge cake                            (bottom)

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These videos show some prinsesstårta variations (videos are in Swedish but the visual is very informative):Finally!

  • Hallonprinsesstårta, or raspberry prinsesstårta, made with custard, whipped cream flavoured with raspberry jam, whole raspberries, and topped with pink marzipan
  • Karl-Gustav tårta, made with custard, sliced banana, a chocolate-covered meringue disc replacing the middle layer of cake, and covered with yellow marzipan
  • Williamtårta, made with custard, poached pear, whipped cream, topped with marzipan, covered with a shiny chocolate glaze, and garnished with toasted sliced almonds

Thanks Korena for such  a great challenge!!

I forget to mention how perfect this worked out for my monthly dinner club. Since I wanted to make this for when I had company over I decided to have a Swedish theme. On the menu:

Swedish meatballs (of course) , handmade egg noodles, boiled potatoes with dill, cucumber salad, and roasted beets and apples.

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The September Baker’s Challenge is hosted by Patri from Asi Son Las Cosas. She has challenged her fellow bakers with a recipe for Empanada Gallega, which is a two crusted pie (usually savory), from Galicia, the northern region of Spain.

“My grandparents lived in a country house that my great-grandfather built a hundred years ago. It is in the northwest of Spain, right on top of Portugal, in the region called Galicia. Back in the 70s, the kitchen was the place of gathering, talking, reading… and there was always something cooking on the iron stove, be it a pot of caldo (a hearty soup), or a stew, or a cake in the oven. When I think back to those days, I can smell the sweetness of burnt wood or coal, the almost “chocolate” scent that rose up to your nostrils when you opened the door, the warmth of the air when coming in from a cool, windy and wet August morning…”

How wonderful is that memory????

As usual, I am typing this up the night the post date, but I actually started a round of these in the beginning of the month. Patri, provided a few recipe options for the dough and some savory fillings but  I immediately started thinking about how to turn this into a dessert. I still had a freezer-full of cherries that I picked last month, my raspberry bush out back is having a bumper crop this summer (what a nice surprise to come home to!) and I saw some lovely fresh figs at the farmers market. Mmmm…. Okay, this was going to be fun. With such beautiful fruit, the fillings could be simple and still shine. Time to turn the large savory pie into individual hand pies!

The dough for these were made using a recipe  “La Empanada Gallega”

3½ cups (500 gm) all-purpose (plain) or bread flour
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
½ cup less 1 tablespoon (100 ml) of liquid fat (oil, margarine, lard)
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add all the ingredients Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Turn dough onto your counter and knead for 10  minutes or place in a standing mixing with the dough hook attachment and knead for 10 minutes.

Make a ball and allow to rise covered with a cloth for about half an hour before using.

Cherry and Frangipane Filling

Frangipane is just an almond cream filling. It is fantastic used as a base for tarts or for pastry filling.

1/2 cup chopped almonds ( or almond meal if you have it)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In your food processor, place the almonds, sugar, and flour. Process until finely ground. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process until you have a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Balsamic Strawberries with Fresh Fig

2 cups fresh strawberries, roughly diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 vanilla bean, optional
2 or 3 fresh figs

Place the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla and add, if using. Bring to a boil and reduce until half. This makes the vinegar sweet and syrupy. Cool and then toss with the strawberries. (This alone is amazing and even better spooned over vanilla ice cream)

Let macerate for 1 hour.

Raspberry and Sweetened Cream Cheese

3 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Cups fresh raspberries (one pint will probably be just fine if you make just a few of each)

Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla,and sugar. Slowly add the cream until smooth.

Assembly:

Roll the dough out quite thin so they don’t end up tot thick. I used a round pastry shell for my cutter. It is 4 inch across. If you are using the frangipane of cream cheese filling, add 1 full tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dough. Spread slightly. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of fruit. For the strawberry fig filling just lay 3 slices of juicy fig across the middle and top with the luscious balsamic berries.

Bring the top half of the dough over the filling ans line up with the bottom edge. Using you fingers, bring the two edges together, pinching the dough together.You can use a fork to press a design around the edges if you like.

Brush with an egg, lightly beaten, before placing into a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

All right. No, I mean that they were just all right. Don’t get me wrong, we ate them and enjoyed them.  The fillings were great ,I just think that I would prefer a tender, flaky crust for instead. But, I wasn’t giving up on this challenge. Onto a savory filling.

I hardly ever post savory recipes. I love to cook just as much as baking and am constantly thinking of menus in my head, but I am a “little bit of this, little bit of that” cook so please bear with me in quantities. I will say that this was delicious and we enjoyed it even more the next day. It started with a layer of carmelized onions followed by a thick layer of cheddar cheese polenta. I finished it off with sautéed carrots, zucchini (from the garden), and peppers. This was a very tasty dinner served with a side salad.

Grandmas recipe for dough

5-1/3 cups (1280 ml) (750 gm) bread flour
2 cups  (480 ml) of lukewarm water (about 85°F/30ºC), approximately
1 satchel (1 tablespoon) (15 gm) dry yeast or  (1 oz) (30 gm) fresh yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (11 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil (you can use oil from the pan where you have cooked the filling)
1 large egg, for egg wash

Sift the flour into a big bowl and add the yeast. Make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, start adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.On a clean counter top, knead the dough by  hand or use a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment  for approximately 10 minutes.Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.

Carmelized Onions (my way)

1 Large sweet onion, sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Place the onion, salt and olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat.Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add the sugar and continue to cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vinegar, stir again, and  cook for another final 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Cheddar Cheese Polenta

2 cups (16 oz)  water
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Cup yellow cornmeal
2 cups (16 oz)  milk , divided (I use skim)
200 g sharp cheddar cheese, grated
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin

Place 2 cups water, 1 cup milk and the butter in a medium sauceopan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, stir together the  remaining cup of milk and the cornmeal. Gradually stir this into the boiling liquid, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly until the cornmeal is thick and creamy, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the salt, cumin, black pepper and cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted into the polenta. Set aside to cool.

Sautéed Summer Vegetables

This is what I had on hand. Please use the vegetables you like; this also goes for the seasoning

1 large zucchini, chopped, equalling about 2 cups
1 Cup chopped carrots
1 red pepper, chopped
1 purple or green pepper chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked Serrano chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the carrots, salt, cumin, chili powder and chipotle flakes; cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes, you still want the zucchini to be crisp since it will continue to cook in the oven. Set aside to cool.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Once risen, turn the dough back into a floured counter and cut it in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying.Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling-pin. You can use a piece of wax paper over the counter, it will make it easier to move the dough around. Depending on the shape of your oven pan or cookie sheet, you will make a rectangle or a round.Now, the thinness of the dough will depend on your choice of filling and how much bread you like in every bite.  For your first time (like me), make it about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch) and then adjust from that in the next ones you make.

Lightly flour your pan or tray.

Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.

Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Using a hot filling will make the bottom layer of the empanadas become soggy. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as “dry” as possible

Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base.  Take into account that this “top” dough needs to be smaller around than the bottom, as it only needs to cover the filling. roll out the second piece of dough and transfer to cover the top.Trim away excess dough.Using your fingers, join bottom and top dough, when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with your thumb and index finger and turning them half way in, that way you end up with a rope-like border. As a picture is worth a thousand words, please watch this video to see how it is done: http://youtu.be/CNpB7HkTdDk

When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. This will help hot air exit the empanada while it’s baking without breaking the cover.In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With the pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.Place the empanada in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check that the bottom part is done. Enjoy!

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So, did everyone have a nice Easter/Passover holiday? I know we did. Instead of staying home for dinner, we got in the car and went to two of our favorite places, Chico Hot Springs and Yellowstone National Park. They are both located in the magical states of Montana & Wyoming. It’s a long drive (900k/530 miles), but to us, soooo worth it. At this time of year the park is such a great place to visit. There is only one section open in the park in the winter, but it never fails to amaze us. Mammoth hot springs is a site to behold on its own, but we also saw tons of Bison, pronghorns, elk, and birds, including hawks, osprey, and a bald eagle! The highlight though were the wolves. We were lucky enough to see a park wolf patrol officer with his scope and got to view a male and pregnant female couple eating a kill (with the bald eagle trying to get at it). Amazing. Seriously. We never forget how lucky we are to live out West and love seeing all of the truly awe-inspiring  places around us.


The many colors of Mammoth Hot Springs

And a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure…


One of the best perks is that the place where we stay has no TV, telephones, or computers. Well, you get dial-up in the lobby but it’s sort of a pain, so why bother. You realize that you don’t need to be “connected” at all times. You realize that the best way to be “connected” is to spend time with your family and friends. With no outside distractions. Kids even soon forget that there is no TV or video when their parents are there with them. Swimming, playing board games, puzzles, reading. Sounds old-fashioned, but it really works. We always meet such interesting people just hanging out in the lobby sitting around the fireplace.So much so that when I got home, I didn’t even want to plug in my laptop for a few days or watch the boob tube. I highly recommend this for everyone every once in a while. I think you will be glad that you did. Okay- enough said on that!

With us missing Easter dinner at home, we just moved it a week. It was time for our monthly dinner supper club anyway, so we did everything a week later. It worked out better for everyone involved anyway. On the menu this month:

apricot apple-bourbon glazed ham (we also had apple-bourbon hot toddys to start)
carrot souffle
braised red cabbage with raisins and apples
shredded brussel sprouts with bacon
popovers
and for dessert……

Cherry Chocolate Mousse Cake!!

equipment needed:  one 9″ springform pan, two 8″ inch cake pans, parchment paper and acetate (you can substitute parchment paper), and a 9″ cardboard cake circle or cake plate.

Before you begin, cut a length of acetate or parchment paper  3 1/2  inches high and 33 inches long. Take this and line the inside of your springform pan. Cut a 9 inch circle of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the pan. Set this aside until the final assembly. This step makes removing the cake from the springform pan a breeze

Cake:

This makes 2 cakes. If they bake perfectly even then you can cut one in half horizontally and freeze the other half for a later time. Since mine usually are domed, I just trim the tops off each one to even them out and use both layers, saving the leftover scraps for a later use (cake pops, sides of cakes, over ice cream…)

1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup hot, strongly brewed coffee

Preheat your  oven to 325 F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and  line the bottoms with parchment paper …

 Whisk the boiling water, chocolate and butter together until melted and set aside.Whip the egg, sugar and vanilla until the mixture doubles in volume (about 2 minutes on high-speed) and then fold in the chocolate mixture by hand. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt over the batter and fold in, then stir in the hot coffee (this will thin the batter out). Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans.

 Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick  inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans.

Cherry Mousse:

* To make the puree, I boiled up about 3 large cups of frozen, pitted cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar, whirled it up in the blender then strained it through a fine sieve. Cool to room temp. I swear, it was easy. Do this while the cake is in the oven.

2 Cups (16 oz) sweetened cherry puree (see above)
3 Cups (24 oz) heavy cream (33-36%)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and either place in a small pan of simmering water and stir until dissolved or place the bowl in the microwave for about 15 -20 seconds (just do not let it boil). Let this cool down for about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, place the sweetened cherry puree. Stir in the gelatin, almond extract, and kirsch (if using). In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft, billowy peaks form; fold lightly into the cherry mixture.

Assembly:

Either cut one layer of cake horizontally or trim down the two layers so that you have 2 thin even layers.

Spoon half of the cherry mousse into the bottom of your prepared springform pan. Carefully place (drop, really) one layer of the cake into the center. You will have a border of mousse all around the cake. Gently press down. Spoon the remaining cherry mousse over this layer. Repeat with the second layer of cake, again gently pressing down so that the cake and mousse border are level.

Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to set up.

While the cake is setting up, make the glaze…

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Bring the water, sugar, and cream to a boil in a medium pan. Once boiling, whisk in the cocoa powder and simmer (reducing the heat if needed) for 4 minutes, stirring often, (the consistency will not change). Remove from heat. Soften the gelatin in ¼ cup of cold water and then whisk this into the hot cocoa mixture until dissolved. Cool the glaze to room temperature, then chill completely, at least 3 hours. It will set up like chocolate gelatin (and it tastes great)

To finish the cake:  Open up the springform pan and remove the cake. Gently peel away the acetate (or parchment) that is around the sides of the cake. Place the cardboard round (or cake plate) onto the top of the cake and invert it onto a cooling rack. If you don’t have an exact 9 inch round cake plate, then invert it directly onto the cooling rack. Place the cooling rack over a parchment lined baking sheet.  Warm the chilled glaze over low heat,while whisking occasionally, until just melted and smooth and pour this over the cake , spreading gently with a spatula to ensure that it covers the top and sides of the cake evenly. I poured half over, chilled it a bit, then put a second coat on it. Scoop up any leftover glaze  that dipped through onto the parchment paper and reuse. You can chill and reuse this glaze over and over. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes, then lift it onto your presentation plate and store chilled until ready to serve. This keeps in the fridge for up to four days.

This was a real visual show-stopper while also a light and  delicious way to end a big meal. Enjoy!


recipe adapted from here

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Dobos Torte

Does this really look like a drum? Maybe I’m looking at the wrong drums…Dobos, which means “drum” or “like a drum”  in Hungarian  is just a coincidence (I think)  since the  cake is an Austrain creation developed by chef  Josef Dobos.  It consists of multiple thin layers of genoise cake that are layered with a chocolate buttercream and a hard caramel topping. While it is time-consuming , it is actually pretty simple to put  together. Just make sure to read through the recipe before starting and to have everything ready (mise en place) to go before you start to make the cake. If a recipe relied on the use of a standing mixer this one would be it. You can certainly use a hand-held mixer, but you will be standing there a long time mixing.

This recipe uses chocolate ganache between the layers instead of buttercream .The flavor of the cake is quite plain so I added a touch of orange to it. I bet this would also be great with a touch of amaretto or frangelico added to the batter, or how about some espresso in the ganache?  Anyway, this is a great holiday cake with real visual appeal. Since I am in New York for the month I get to bake lots of treats for my mom’s various holiday gatherings and I thought this would be perfect to try. It is my first one and I am really pleased at how easily it all came together. This is adapted from an old Good Housekeeping recipe. It makes 16 slices.

There are 3 steps to making this cake, besides the assembly:

1. Bake the cake layers

2. Prepare the ganache

3. Make the caramel

GENOISE CAKE

12 large eggs, separated
1 C granulated sugar
1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped into the egg yolks (optional) .Reserve the pod for another use (add it to your sugar bowl,to your bottle of vanilla extract, to a bottle of vodka or rum…..)
1 tsp each of Fiore di silia  and vanilla extract OR 2 tsp vanilla extract and the zest of an orange
1 1/3 C cake flour, sifted (do not use self rising flour)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Grease the bottom of two 9 inch pans. Cut out 8 parchment paper circles (unless you have silpat cake liners, which you can just wipe off and reuse). Line each pan with a parchment circle. Set the other 6 aside

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar and the vanilla bean seeds (if using) on high, until thick and light lemon colored. This will take about 10 minutes. Beat in the extracts, set aside.

In a large, very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and whisk until the stand at stiff peaks.

transfer the egg yolk mixture to a very large bowl and sift the flour over it. Fold the flour into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the melted butter. (I use my whisk attachment to do this)

With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites in the yolks, 1/3 at a time, just until blended.

Spoon 1 cup batter into each of the prepared pans. Use a small offset spatula to gently spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake the layers for 9 minutes, until lightly golden brown and springy to the touch. Wait about 1 minute then invert them onto a wire rack. Peel and discard the parchment and flip them back over to cool completely.

When the pans are cool (it will only take a few minutes, wipe them out and line each with a new piece of parchment. Repeat with the remaining batter to make 8 layers in total. Stack the cooled cake layers between layers of wax paper.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
you should always try to use the best quality chocolate that you can afford
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces milk chocolate
2 ounces white chocolate
1 C heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Finely chop the chocolates and place in a bowl.  Heat the cream over medium high heat until just about to boil. Pour over the chocolates and let it sit for about 3 minutes. With a whisk or rubber spatula, stir the mixture together until it is smooth and creamy. Whisk in the butter and continue stirring until everything is beautiful and shiny.

At this point, you can let the mixture stand at room temp for a few hours to set up or you can put the bowl over an ice bath to speed up the process. All that you do is take you bowl and place it in a larger bowl that has a few inches of cold water and some ice cubes in it. Stir the mixture every few minutes for about 20 minutes and it will be ready. I recommend the latter since it is faster.

CARAMEL

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon butter
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl water
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, lemon juice and water over high heat and bring to a boil over high heat , swirling the pan once or twice. Continue cooking, without stirring, about 3-4 minutes, until the caramel is golden color (I like my caramel on the darker side to offset the sweetness of the chocolate).

Carefully pour the hot caramel over the top of one layer of cake and quickly spread it evenly over the top with a small offset spatula. Let it cool for about 1-2 minutes to slightly set and then quickly,with a greased chef’s knife, cut the cake layer into 16 wedges.

Dip the rounded side of the wedges in the melted chocolate and set aside until the final assembly.

Final assembly:

Spread about 1/4 cup of the ganache on 1 layer of cake. Top with a second layer and cover with another 1/4 cup of the ganache. Keep repeating until all the layers are done. Pipe or spoon the remaining ganache into 16 little dollops evenly spaced around the edge of the top layer. If serving within 2 hours, place 1 caramel wedge, set at an angle, on top of each ganache dollop.

If not serving right away, refrigerate the cake, but not the top caramel layer- it will get soggy in the fridge.  To serve, take the cake out of the fridge at least 1 hour before serving and top with the caramel wedges.

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