Friday, March 27, 2015

Mixed Fruit Tarte Tatin with Homemade Creme Fraiche

For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

I thought our challenge host's description of a tarte tatin was really perfect:  "This classic French dessert is basically the apple pie version of an upside-down cake: apples are caramelized in sugar in a saucepan, covered with pastry and baked, and then inverted on a plate to serve. It’s a great example of the magic of caramelized sugar: the apples take on a deep, rich mahogany color and become infused with the complex flavors of a well-cooked caramel, and the crisp puff pastry base also becomes practically candied with caramel at the edges, resulting in a fantastic mix of soft, crunchy, and chewy textures."

For my tatin, I chose to replace the classic apples with banana, apricot and mandarin oranges...all of which melt together in a delicious caramel.  I especially enjoy the oranges as they basically disintegrate into the caramel, which is flavored with a touch of cinnamon and rum.  Yum!  Though my favorite part of this dessert is the homemade creme fraiche.  It's insanely easy to make and super creamy and fancy.  This whole sweet treat is pretty easy to accomplish, actually.  I made two this month and both were done in time for breakfast because I always make my crust the night before.

Above you can see how it's made.  The filling is cooked on the stove top until caramelized.  The filling is then topped with a layer of dough.  Once it's baked, the whole thing is turned onto a platter and the top crust becomes a bottom crust.

Korena told this little story about the tatin's origin. Maybe it's a true story, maybe not, but it's kind of fun:

"The tart is named after the Tatin sisters, who ran a hotel near Paris in the 1880s. Apparently, one day one of the sisters forgot to put a bottom crust on her apple pie, but instead of the disaster she was expecting to pull out of the oven, she ended up with a dessert so loved by the hotel guests that it became the hotel’s signature dish."

Korena's apple tatin looks amazing, by the way.  You can find the PDF file for this challenge here.

Mixed Fruit Tarte Tatin with Homemade Crème Fraiche

Homemade Crème Fraiche
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sour cream

Stir together until blended (shaking in a covered mason jar is easiest).  Let sit, covered, at room temperature overnight.  Refrigerate after 10 hours.  Before serving, add a pinch of sugar or two and whip for several minutes using an electric mixer on high until thickened and fluffy like whipped cream.

Flaky Tart Crust
For one 10 inch tart.

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold shortening, cut into pieces
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water

Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Drop in shortening and quickly grate butter directly into the bowl using a cheese grater. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it's broken down into course, chunky crumbs. Stop mixing when the largest crumb is about the size of a pea.

Using a fork, quickly stir in 1/3 cup of very cold ice water.  If needed, stir in more water in sprinkles until most of the flour has been picked up by the dough. Turn the rough dough and crumbs onto a floured surface. Fold the dough over on itself (a very gentle knead) just until the dough holds together in a mass, about 10 times. Do not over mix! You will be able to see bits of butter in the dough and this is a good thing.

Shape the dough into a disk (like a burger patty). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before use. The dough will keep in the fridge for a full day, or you may freeze the dough for up to 3 months. Bring back to a thawed chill before rolling.

Tarte Tatin
Makes one 10 inch tart.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 cup halved canned apricots
1 cup canned mandarin oranges
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
Flour, for your work surface
1 recipe of flaky tart crust
Crème Fraiche, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally (but do not stir), until the mixture browns lightly, about 3 minutes.  Do not over-brown, and if it burns, start over!

Arrange the fruit in the skillet, overlapping as needed. If it's going to take you a minute to arrange the fruit, remove the pan from the stove while you do this.  Cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Drizzle vanilla and rum over the fruit and cook until the liquid has thickened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Roll out the tart crust 1/4 inch thick using a floured rolling pin on a well-floured surface.  Cut the dough into a circle by tracing a 10-inch skillet or lid.

Place the round of crust on top of the fruit, and slice some vents into the center of the dough. Tuck the edges of the dough in around the filling a little. Transfer to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully invert the tart onto a serving plate.  To invert the tart, cover the skillet with a serving plate and turn over in one quick motion, then slowly lift the skillet. If the fruit has shifted, use a spatula to move things into place.

Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with dollops of crème fraiche.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Siopao {Asian Stuffed Buns}

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

I love a savory baking challenge, especially one that is new to me, easy to make, and something that kids and grown-ups love equally! Siopao literally means "steam buns" and if you frequent Asian markets you've likely seen them in the food court. Julie's recipe is for baked rolls, and I wondered how the baking would affect the texture of the bread. Steam buns are incredibly tender, and those that I've eaten have been stuffed with spiced pork. These baked Siopao were also incredibly tender, and I filled mine with pork laab, a minced meat salad that is crazy delicious and packed with traditional Thai flavor. My family went crazy for these! Everyone wants me to make them every day now, which to be honest, I could probably accomplish even on a work night if I made the filling ahead of time. The dough is a no-knead recipe, so you could mix it up and leave it sit in the fridge for the day. Dinner could be on the table in an hour with little active work, after work :)

I served our Siopao with an Asian cabbage salad, and you can find a recipe for it in my cookbook. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!  For Julie's Daring Baker recipe, you can find the challenge PDF here!


Savory Siopao Filling
Servings: 12

4 tablespoons uncooked rice
1 tablespoon oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound course ground pork
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
½ tablespoon fish sauce
One shallot, minced
Juice of one lime
1 jalapeno, minced (and seeded, if desired to reduce spice)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Toast the rice in a hot dry skillet, stirring often, until nutty and brown.  Grind or pound into a course powder.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add garlic and cook for a minute.  Add pork, tamari sauce, fish sauce and shallot.  Cook until the pork is cooked through.  Stir in lime juice, jalapeno, cilantro and toasted rice.

Place cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir with a fork or small whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved.

Stir the cornstarch mixture into the filling and cook for a minute until thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely before making the rolls.
Siopao Rolls
Servings: 12 large buns

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten, for the egg-wash

Mix yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly mix in flour until it's fully incorporated and you have a shaggy, very tacky dough, but not wet and sticky.

Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour in a warm place (such as in a cold oven with the light turned on) until doubled.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle some flour over the top of the dough and fold it over on itself several time until you can shape it into a smooth ball.  Divide the dough into about 12 equal pieces.

On a floured surface, roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc about 6 inches wide.

Place a walnut sized mound of filling into the center of the disc, wrap the dough around the filling, and firmly pinch it closed around the top of the filling.

Place filled buns, seam side down, on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Brush your egg wash on the top of each bun. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Esterhazy Cake

For the month of January, Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

This month's challenge was exactly that:  A challenge!  It took me many hours over the course of three days to tackle this one.  And a dozen eggs. And 3 pounds of hazelnuts. And 3 sticks of butter.  It's a rich one, and is a rewarding experience both to make and to serve at the table.

A brief story behind this cake:  In the 19th century, a confectioner from Budapest baked and named the Esterhazy Torte after the wealthy Prince Paul III Anton Esterhazy de Galantha, a member of the Esterhazy dynasty and diplomat of the Austrian Empire.

I am loving all these ancient recipes that are coming down the pipe in the Daring Bakers club!  You know it's a good one when people are still talking about it 200 years later...

Esterhazy Cake
Recipe Source:
Servings: 10-12



12 large egg whites
1 cup superfine baking sugar
Seeds scraped from one half of a vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups ground hazelnuts
2/3 cup all-purpose flour


12 large egg yolks
1 cup superfine baking sugar
Seeds scraped from one half of a vanilla bean
1 1/3 cups butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups toasted ground hazelnuts

3 tablespoons apricot jam, strained
1 teaspoon water

¼ cup dark chocolate
1 teaspoon oil
1 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts

About 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons oil
4 teaspoons lemon juice
About 4 tablespoons hot water



Place 6 cups of whole hazelnuts on a sheet pan in a cold oven.  Increase the temperature to 350F and bake for about 15 minutes until a nice aroma starts to come out of the oven and the nuts have darkened.  Begin checking them often.  Continue until their skins turn very dark brown and the hazelnut 'meat' becomes a caramel color.  Cool completely before grinding/chopping in a food processor as needed for the recipe.


Preheat the oven to 325F.  Cut parchment paper into five squares large enough to draw a 10 inch circle on the paper.  Trace a 10 inch circle on each piece of parchment.

With an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites and vanilla seeds while gradually adding the sugar.  Beat for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.  Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add in the hazelnuts and flour and mix until barely combined.  Fold with a rubber spatula until no white streaks remain in the batter.

 Flip one piece of parchment over (you can see the pencil on the other side) and place it on the flat bottom of a sheet pan.   Evenly spread one-fifth of the sponge cake batter in the circle.

Bake for 14 minutes until soft but not sticky.  Repeat with each sheet of parchment, baking each round of cake on the flat bottom of a cooled sheet pan.  You will have five rounds of cake.  Cool each cake completely while still on the paper.


The filling is cooked in a double boiler or a bowl set in a pot with an inch of boiling water.  Be careful that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric mixer in the smaller pot/bowl (not on the stove yet) for 30 seconds. Place the smaller pot/bowl into the larger one and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until slightly thickened and evenly colored. There will be some darker yellow streaks showing when you stir and all will be a lighter yellow when it’s done.  While it cooks, stir every few minutes, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Stir constantly near the end.  Let the filling cool completely.

Beat the cooled cooked yolks for 30 seconds with an electric mixer.  In a separate bowl, beat the room temperature butter with vanilla seeds for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, then mix this into the cooked yolk filling.  Add in the ground hazelnuts and beat again until combined.

Set aside ¼ cup of the filling to spread around the torte at the end.


Line a large tray with parchment paper.  Remove the paper from one of the cake rounds and place it onto the tray.  Spread one quarter of the remaining filling evenly over the cake, then place another layer on the top.  Repeat, making sure that the last layer of cake is placed bottom-side-up, but do not spread filling on this top surface.

Place some parchment paper over the torte. Press with your hands to even it out, put another tray over the torte and place something slightly heavy on the top to allow the torte to level up.  Place the whole torte with the weight in the fridge for one hour.  After the cake has chilled, trim the messy edges to round the cake and straighten the sides.


Heat the apricot jam and water on the stove until melted.  Remove the paper from the torte and spread the jam on top of it. You want a very thin layer, just barely covering the torte.  Place the torte back in the fridge for 30 minutes for the jam to cool.

Spread the reserved hazelnut filling around the sides of the cake.


Melt the chocolate with a teaspoon of oil.  Place in a piping bag with a tiny tip or a plastic bag with a tiny snip in the corner that will act as the tip.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, oil and lemon juice while adding teaspoon by teaspoon of hot water until the mixture is creamy and very thick. Mix well.  With a hot wet knife quickly spread the icing over the top of the torte.

Immediately draw a spiral of chocolate onto the cake, then quickly, using a wooden skewer or knife tip run lines from the center of the cake to the edge. Each line should run in a different direction. One running away from the center and the next one running to the center.  Do not delay on the chocolate decoration process or the chocolate will cool and set up.

Press the remaining crushed hazelnuts around the sides of the cake to complete the decoration.  Let rest in the fridge for 24 hours before serving.



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Peperkoek with Rum Glaze

For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.

Andrea describes this festive bread as such:
"Peperkoek or Kruidkoek is a Dutch sweet quick bread made with warming spices. While we eat this bread for breakfast and lunch, we also have some at our tables for all meals... The recipes listed in the challenge use gingerbread spices. The gingerbread spice blend I use is the one common in the Netherlands."

For this challenge, I followed the recipe fairly close to the original, but rather than using ground ginger in the dry spice blend, I added a good amount of fresh grated ginger to the batter.  I also cut the wheat flour with some white flour and replaced some of the brown sugar with molasses.  And while I expected this sweet bread to be more of a cake, it turned out to be what I would consider the perfect gingerbread.  It is slightly dense and chewy, slightly sweet and entirely festive and warming on a cold Christmas morning.

For the rest of Andrea's Dutch bread recipes, see the original challenge PDF here!


Servings: 12

Gingerbread Spice Blend  (makes 2 to 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (I used black pepper, actually)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons ground gingerbread spices
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Rum Glaze (via Sprinklebakes):
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
Drizzle of milk or cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat a 10 inch bundt pan with baking spray.
Put the eggs, molasses, water, ginger, spices and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk until everything is dissolved.
Add the flours and the baking powder into the bowl and mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the flour is wet. There may be some lumps left- do not over mix.
Pour into the baking tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Take the cake out of the oven, allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes
After the 5 minutes take the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool down to room temperature.  
For the rum glaze, combine the powdered sugar and rum in a medium bowl. Add milk a few drops at a time while whisking. When the mixture is thick and drops from the whisk in a very thick ribbon back into the bowl, then the correct consistency has been achieved. If the glaze is thinned too much, add additional powdered sugar. Try to keep the glaze quite thick (I wish mine would have been a bit thicker).  Place the cake on a wire rack set on a sheet pan.  Pour the glaze over top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

Let the cake stand uncovered until the sauce hardens.  Serve sliced into wedges.

Enjoy, and happy holidays to you and those you love!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Chocolate Eclair Paris Brest

The November Daring Baker’s challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest bicycle race.

A Paris Brest is made with the same dough as an eclair, though typically it's sandwiched with almond and hazelnut flavored crème mousseline and decorated with slivered almonds and powdered sugar.  Our Daring Baker's hostess, Luisa, was completely open to us being creative thinkers with this challenge, so I recreated a chocolate doughnut filled with vanilla pudding and glazed with rich chocolate.  I served this chilled, sliced into wedges, and it was fantastic. 

Pate a choux is used for making cream puff type desserts, because it blows up in the oven and can be filled with pastry cream or other things, both sweet and savory.  And it's super easy to make!  I made two eight-inch rings of pastry and they both fell a bit when I pulled them out of the oven.  Instead of splitting the rings into two layers I used each as sort of a top and bottom "bun" for my doughnut sandwich.  The filling is real vanilla bean pastry cream and it is SO yummy.  Once chilled, this ginormous doughnut slices up nice and clean. It's not a super refined dessert...but it was really fun to make and kind of charming in a way.

Choux Pastry (pate a choux)
Use a deep saucepan for this. When you whisk in the eggs you'll want plenty of room to groove.

½ cup butter
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temp

Egg Wash:
1 egg mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons water until smooth

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large sauce pan, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over medium until the butter melts, then remove from stove. Let this cool off the heat for 2 minutes.

Add flour all at once and beat the mixture fiercely with a whisk until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition.

The mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and very thick but not stiff.

If desired, prepare your parchment by tracing a 6 inch circle with a dark pencil. Flip your paper over and you'll be able see the pattern from above. Pipe three layers of dough in a ring with a half inch round tip or a bag with the corner snipped off, or use a
 star-shaped tip. If you don't have a star tip, use a fork to trace some lines on its surface, this will help the choux pastry to rise properly. Brush with the egg wash.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until golden and puffed. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Slice in half horizontally and fill the bottom layer with pastry cream (recipe below), capping it with the top layer.  Or use two intact rings for the two layers of the doughnut sandwich, piping pastry cream between them..

Set the "sandwich" on a wire rack over a sheet pan and top with lukewarm chocolate glaze (recipe below) and chill until set.  Slice and serve immediately.

Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.

Chocolate Glaze
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat just until it boils. Immediately turn off the heat. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool a bit if you want it thicker.  Warm it up a bit if you want to thin it out.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Austrian Sachertorte

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

I've made many chocolate cakes in my day, but none quite like this.  This is a real-grown-up chocolate cake.  Dense and not too sweet, lightly flavored with apricot, glazed with more dark chocolate and served with real unsweetened whipped cream.  My daughter Penelope, as I've said before, has highfalutin taste in desserts, so this made the perfect birthday cake for her this week!

To give you a little history of the Sachertorte (I should be doing that when presenting you with all of these foreign treats, shouldn't I?  I'll start now...)

In 1832, Prince Wenzel von Metternich instructed his personal chef to create a special dessert for several important guests. The head chef, having taken ill, let the task fall to his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Franz Sacher, who was in his second year of training in Metternich's kitchen.  The guests loved the cake and Sacher went on to have a career as a pastry chef.  Sacher's eldest son Eduard carried on his father's culinary legacy, completing his own training in Vienna, during which time he perfected his father's recipe and developed the torte into its current form.  Since then and to this day, the cake remains among the most famous of Vienna's culinary specialties.  And it's a very consistent cake...chocolate sponge cake...apricot...chocolate glaze..the word "sacher" written on top with writing chocolate.  I (for once) changed very little from the original recipe this month, but if you'd like to take a gander at the original Daring Bakers challenge recipe, click HERE!


For the Cake
¾ cup good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt

For Assembly
Apricot Glaze (recipe below)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe below)
Writing Chocolate (recipe below)
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
2. Place the bittersweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and heat over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (make sure that the bowl is not touching the simmering water) or in the microwave until just melted. Set aside to cool completely, stirring often.
3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or electric mixer on medium speed until very light and creamy. Add the powdered sugar on low speed, then increase to medium speed and beat again until light and creamy.
4. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the cooled chocolate and vanilla and beat until well-mixed and very light and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
6. In a very clean bowl using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with about one tablespoon of the granulated sugar on high speed until foamy. Gradually add in the rest of the granulated sugar and continue beating the whites until they form soft, shiny peaks.
7. Vigorously stir about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a spatula until just a few streaks of egg white remain. Be careful not to deflate the egg whites.
8. Stir together the flour and salt and sift half of it over the chocolate mixture. Fold in with a spatula until almost incorporated. Sift over the remaining flour and fold to combine completely.
9. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared spring form pan.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
11. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan and remove the sides. Carefully invert the cake onto a rack and remove the bottom of the pan and parchment paper, then turn the cake right-side up onto a rack and allow to cool completely.

12. Assembly: Turn the cake upside-down so that the perfectly flat bottom of the cake is now the top. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
13. Place one layer of the cake on a cardboard cake round (or the bottom of the spring form pan) and spread generously with about half of the apricot glaze. Allow it to soak in.
14. Place the second cake layer on top and spread the top and sides with the remaining apricot glaze. Work quickly before the glaze has a chance to set and use a metal offset spatula to smooth the top. Place the cake on a rack set over a plate or baking sheet lined with waxed paper and allow the apricot glaze to set.
15. Make the chocolate glaze and pour it over the top of the cake, first around the edge and then in the middle. Spread the excess glaze over any bare spots using a metal offset spatula. Before the glaze has a chance to set, move the cake to a serving platter.
16. With the writing chocolate, pipe the word “Sacher” in the middle of the cake and add any decorative flourishes you wish. Chill the cake until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour.
17. To serve: Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks (this is best done in a cold bowl with cold beaters).
18. Cut the Sachertorte into wedges with a large sharp knife dipped in hot water and wipe off the blade between cuts. Serve each wedge of cake with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Apricot Glaze

1¼ cup apricot jam or preserves (it's best to not use low sugar jam)*
2 tablespoons rum or water

1. Boil the jam and rum/water in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and drips slowly from the spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Strain through a wire mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids. Use while warm.
*I used low sugar jam and I think it prevented my apricot syrup from setting up properly.  When I poured my chocolate glaze over the cake, the jam/syrup slid off which is why the sides are all lumpy.  Usually sachertortes are beautiful and smooth!

Chocolate Glaze

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
½ cup water
4 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
2. Attach a candy thermometer, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture reaches 234˚F, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate. The glaze should be smooth and shiny and a little thicker than Hersheys syrup.  If needed, whisk in little bits of chocolate while hot until it's the consistency you are looking for.  Use immediately once it hits the right thickness.

Writing Chocolate

¼ cup chopped good quality chocolate
½ teaspoon vegetable oil

1. Heat the chocolate until just melted, then stir in enough vegetable oil to get a pipeable consistency. If necessary, let the chocolate mixture cool slightly to thicken so that it is not too runny, or whisk in a pat of room temp butter to thicken.
2. Place the chocolate in a piping bag with a tiny tip or use a small Ziplock bag and snip off the corner to make a small hole.  Practice writing on waxed paper before writing on the cake.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chodské Koláče (Kolache from Chodsko)

The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat –Kolaches!

The Daring Bakers were offered three recipes this month:  One of which I really wanted to eat, and one of which was far more creative, totally inspiring and quite tedious.  Obviously, I chose the latter, because somehow I seem to be drawn to tedium...and the creative possibilities were not lost on me either!  The process was a ton of fun, and the outcome was kind of surprising.  I've never eaten a pastry that tasted quite like this.  This is my favorite part of the Daring Bakers challenges.  At first glance, baked goods seem so similar from one region to another, but they each have their own unique difference that makes each a totally new experience.  If you'd like to see the other recipes for creamy filled pastries, Pražský koláč (Prague Kolach) and Dvojctihodné / Moravské koláče (Two fillings / Moravian Kolaches), click here!

I really loved working with this pastry's dough.  It it soft and wet and rich and insanely tender when it's been baked.  I don't even know what to compare it to.  It's not greasy or flaky.  It's very light and slightly yeasty.  I will be making this dough again soon and next time will fill it with quark filling and homemade chunky applesauce.  Quark is a fresh cow's milk cheese, similar to fresh goat cheese.  I had never had it, and had kind of a hard time finding it!  Quark is tangy and soft.  If you're looking for a substitute...maybe ricotta?  Especially homemade ricotta (you will find a super easy recipe in this post) would be nice.

My decorations for these pastries were inspired by the beautiful asters decorating the woods edging my yard. I love this time of year in Minnesota and I think the look of the kolace really reflect the beauty of the season!

Chodské Koláče


For the dough:

2 teaspoons dry active yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup butter, softened
zest of ½ lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon oil
1 lightly beaten egg for brushing

For the quark filling:

1 1/2 cups (about 3/4 lb) quark
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
A splash/pinch of rum, lemon zest and vanilla extract to taste
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg white (save the yolk)

For the poppy seed filling:

1/2 cup poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 egg yolk (leftover from the quark filling)
2 ginger-bread or vanilla wafer cookies, ground (or more if needed for thickening the paste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the jam filling:

1/2 cup jam of your choice (traditionally they use plum jam, I used orange marmalade)
A splash of lemon juice and rum to taste
1 teaspoon corn starch

For the decoration:

Almond slivers, pine nuts and golden raisins
[Optional:  Stir almond slivers into water that has been dyed pale purple with food coloring.  Drain and dry in the open air for a while before using.]


In a bowl, mix together yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add about half of the warm milk, mix well and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes.

In a bowl of your electric mixer (or in a large bowl) mix remaining flour, sugar and milk, egg, butter, lemon zest, salt, rum, vanilla, oil and the yeast mixture. Knead with dough hook (or by hand with a wooden spoon) on low speed for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour to double its volume.

Meanwhile, prepare fillings (instructions below) and set them aside.

Punch down the risen dough, fold it and let rise to double again.

Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces on a floured surface.

Prepare 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper. Using floured hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and press it out into a circle with your fingers into a circle about 6 inches in diameter. While you're pressing the dough out, create raised rims around the edges with your fingers, kind of like you're preparing a pizza crust.

Brush the edges with beaten egg.

Decorate each kolach with quark, poppy seed filling and jam filling, and with almonds and raisins.  I started each kolach with a generous layer of quark, then decorated the top as I pleased.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until edges turn golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Quark filling:
In a bowl, mix quark, butter and sugar well. Add whipping cream, rum, lemon zest, vanilla extract and corn starch and mix together. In a clean bowl of your electric mixer using clean beaters, beat egg white on high until stiff, then carefully fold the whites into the quark mix.

Poppy seeds filling:
Finely grind poppy seeds with sugar in a food processor and carefully add boiling water. Mix in the egg, ground cookies and cinnamon. The consistency should be like frosting.  Add more ground cookies until the filling is smooth and slightly thick.  Taste it and add more sugar and cinnamon if you like.

Jam filling:
Mix together all ingredients.  Add a bit of hot water if it’s too thick to spread easily.

Happy decorating!  Enjoy!

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