Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TWD: Vanilla Chiffon Roll

This week's Tuesday's With Dorie recipe is a luxurious Vanilla Chiffon Roll, which I filled with a homemade whipped chocolate mousse. 

The recipe for the Vanilla Chiffon Roll was contributed by Mary Bergin, but called for a mousse filling made with walnuts.  Since most of my little people don't like nuts, I opted for the plain chocolate mousse instead.  However, time got away from me, and I was rushed to prepare the roll, and the mousse had not had adequate time to set up firmly.  

Regardless, the cake and mousse were delicious!!!   The chiffon cake recipe is definitely one I will make again in the future for cake rolls.  I love the strong vanilla flavor.  Vanilla is my favorite!!   I can imagine a wide variety of fillings that would be perfect inside.

The yield for this recipe is 6 servings.  Say what??   I was able to get 16 generous slices from my cake!  Could it be a type-o in the cookbook??

Here is the recipe for the Chiffon Cake.  If you'd like the recipe for the walnut mousse, please visit the TWD website and take a glance at some of my fellow TWD bakers' blogs!  

Following the cake recipe is the mousse recipe that I used.  It was delicious as well!

Vanilla Chiffon Cake
~Mary Bergin~
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup vegetable or safflower oil
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350.  Coat a 17 1/2 by 12 1/2 inch jelly-roll pan with vegetable spray, line with parchment or waxed paper, and spray the paper lightly all over.
Sift together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, and baking soda onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper;  add the salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, water, and vanilla until blended.  Add the dry ingredients gradually to the yolk mixture, whisking all the while;  set aside.
Beat the 6 egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or work with a hand-held mixer.  At low speed, beat the white until they're foamy and form very soft peaks.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until the whites are thick and shiny and hold peaks.  (If you run a finger through the whites, it should leave a smooth, even path.)  Fold about one third of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then turn the yolk mixture into the whites and fold it in gently but thoroughly.
Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula.  Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges of the cake just start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the cake to cool to room temperature.
When you're ready to unmold the cake, sprinkle the top with a little confectioner's sugar and cover the cake with parchment paper or waxed paper.  Place an inverted jelly-roll pan over the cake and turn the cake over, inverted pan and all.  Remove the baking pan, peel off the paper the cake baked on, turn the paper over, and reposition it over the cake.  Invert the baking pan, press it against the cake, and invert again so that the cake is right side up and resting on the inverted pan.  With the cake on top of the pan, trim the edges of the cake with a long, thin knife.
Keeping a 17 inch side of the cake in front of you, spread the chilled mousse evenly over the cake, leaving an inch of cake bare along the side closest to you.  Starting at the side closest to you, roll the cake up into an even roll, using the paper to help you move it along.  When you come to the end of the roll (it will have only rolled over on itself about one and a half times), the edges of the paper should meet.  Grab the edges and use the paper to scoot the cake into the center of the jelly-roll pan.
Tuck the ends of the paper under the cake and chill the cake, on the baking pan, for at least 2 hours.  Wrapped well, the cake can stay in the fridge overnight.   Sprinkle with cocoa powder and/or powdered sugar before slicing and serving.  Yield:  16 servings.
Chocolate Mousse
4 eggs separated
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream whipped 
In medium saucepan, combine egg yolks and milk. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is almost boiling and is thickened enough to coat spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla.  Continue stirring until chocolate is melted. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold gently into the chocolate mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cherry Cheesecake Bars with White Chocolate Drizzle

Easy, on-hand ingredients made these cheesecake bars a cinch to make for our church supper yesterday!

Cherry Cheesecake Bars
Shortbread Crust and Topping
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
4 ounces white chocolate chips
Cheesecake Filling
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. 

Prepare crust.  In a medium sized bowl, beat together softened butter and powdered sugar.  Add flour and mix until flour is mostly incorporated.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Remove 3/4 cups of crust mixture and set aside.  Press remaining crust mixture into prepared 9 x 13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Prepare filling while crust is baking.  In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash!), beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Add flour.  Pour over hot crust and spread to the edges.   Spoon cherry pie filling over cream cheese mixture, arranging cherries as evenly as possible.   Sprinkle reserved crust mixture over top of cherries.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until set.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.   Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over cheesecake bars.  Refrigerate to set the chocolate.

Cut into 24 bars.  Serve and enjoy!
** The cheesecake portion of this recipe is adapted from the Almond-Streusel-Cherry Cheesecake Bar recipe from Betty Crocker.

**The shortbread crust recipe is adapted from a recipe found on allrecipes.com.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD: Country Bread

Crusty bread!   One of my favorite things in this world.  Especially the day it's baked, still a little warm, slathered with butter.  

Seriously.   What could be better??

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Country Bread, by contributer Joe Ortiz.   The dough begins with a sponge, which must rest at least 6 to 8 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.  This gives time for the yeast, wheat, and rye to work their magic, fermenting and inflating and developing this bread's sourdough qualities.

The sponge is mixed with additional yeast, flour, water, and salt.  After rising, the dough is shaped and set in a banneton, basket, or cloth-lined bowl to rise a second time.  Finally, the dough is set upon a baking stone, slashed with a sharp knife, and baked in a steamy, hot oven for an hour.

If you'd like to view an episode of Baking With Julia featuring decorative sourdough breads with Joe Ortiz, see here!    

Country Bread
~*~Joe Ortiz~*~

 1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup water
3 - 3 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon salt

 Put 1/4 cup water into a mixer bowl and sprinkle with the yeast, stirring to mix.  Allow the yeast to rest for about 5 minutes, until it gets creamy, before adding the rest of the water. Stir the three flours together and gradually add them to the yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sponge has the consistency of pancake batter.

Cover with a towel and allow to rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, during which time it will rise and fall,  or refrigerate overnight. If you've chilled the sponge, pull it out of the refrigerator an hour before you're ready to continue with the recipe and, just to be on the safe side, use warm water in the next step.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of water and pour the other 1/2 cup into the bowl with the sponge. Combine the 3 cups of bread flour and the wheat flour in a separate bowl.  Working in the mixer with the dough hook in place, gradually add 2 cups of the flour to the sponge, mixing on medium-low speed.  After mixing for about 3 minutes, add the yeast mixture and beat to incorporate.Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix it in. Now work the remaining flour mixture into the dough, adding enough additional flour to make a dough that starts to clean the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer to medium and to knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should be moist, even a bit sticky.

Second rise:  Turn the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to proof at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it doubles in volume.

Shaping the Dough:  Prepare a resting place for the loaf.  A banneton that measure 8 inches across at the base would be good, as would a large basket or colander lined with a linen towel.  Rub flour into the linger of the banneton or basket and set aside until needed.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a flat circle with your fingers and palms. Fold the edges into the center and press with the heel of your hand. Then flip the dough over and using your cupped hands, work the cough against the counter to form a tight ball that is about the same size as your banneton or basket. Repeat this pattern four more times.  Turn the dough smooth side down in the banneton

Final rise:  Cover again with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Baking the bread:  About 30 minutes before you're ready to bake the bread, position an oven rack to the lower third of your oven and line it with a baking stone or quarry tiles, leaving a border of at least 1 inch all around.   Preheat the oven to 425F. Pour some water into a spray bottle and set aside.

Rub a bakers peel or baking sheet with cornmeal and carefully invert the loaf onto it. Spray the oven walls with water and close the door immediately to trap the steam. Slash a few lines across the top of the dough in a pattern that appeals to you---3 long slashes or a broad tic-tac-toe pattern would be nice--- cutting in about 1/2 inch. Slide the dough from the peel/cookie sheet onto the baking stone, spray the oven walls with water again, shut the oven door and turn the temperature down to 400F. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden. The loaf should sound hollow if you knock on the bottom, and should read 200F if an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center.

Remove the loaf to a rack an allow it to cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer, before cutting. It really is best to allow the bread to cool to room temperature before cutting.

Storing:  This loaf will keep for 3 days at room temperature. Store with the cut side down on the counter--its thick crust will be fine exposed to the air.  For storage of us up a month, wrap the loaf airtight in plastic wrap and freeze it. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Olaf" cake

Today I had a demo at Michaels, promoting our Wilton courses, and for fun I made an Olaf cake!  I sculpted Olaf from fondant, but realize he's lacking some character.  There was not enough time for the fondant to fully dry, thus his arms are down by his sides, and he's beginning to lean over!  Fondant takes hours, if not days, to dry completely.  Oh well, you get the idea!

The snowy trees are just sugar cones, piped with buttercream using a star tip. 

If you're not familiar with who Olaf is, he's the adorably funny snowman in Disney's most recent move, "Frozen".

Olaf's song---"Summer"

Friday, January 10, 2014

Easy Tiramisu Cake

My hubby and I are not coffee drinkers (think of the money we save NOT going to Starbucks!), but he enjoys coffee flavored desserts.  Tiramisu is a favorite!

When my beloved asked me to make a cake for his customers this week, I wanted to try something simple yet different.   I whipped out my Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, and had all the ingredients on hand for this Easy Tiramisu Cake.

I love the scent of coffee beans.  I love the smell of coffee brewing.  I love the smell of Starbucks!   I love the *idea* of coffee.  I just cannot stand the taste of coffee.  Not brewed.  Not in cake.  Not even in ice cream.   

In other words, I cannot attest to the taste of this cake.....but the fact that 6 men ate two thirds of this 9 x 13 inch cake sure says something, right?

AND, my kids think I'm cool because I let them eat a piece for breakfast today.  Ha!  (I hope the minimal caffeine didn't affect them.....!)

Easy Tiramisu Cake
~*~  The Cake Mix Doctor ~*~
1 (18 1/4 ounce) package plain white cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, or sunflower)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua or 1/4 cup other coffee-flavored liqueur 
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt or 2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt
2 (16 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly mist a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside.
Place the cake mix, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.  Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again, if needed.
The batter should look thick and well blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 32 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.  Place the hot water, coffee powder, and sugar in a small bowl and stir to combine until the coffee and sugar dissolve.  Stir in the coffee liqueur.  Poke holes in the cake with a chopstick or drinking straw and spoon the syrup over the cake so that the syrup can seep down into the holes. Set the cake aside.
Prepare the topping.  Place the yogurt, cream cheese, and confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture should look well combined and thick. Spread the topping over the syrup-soaked cake, using the rubber spatula to spread the topping out to the edges of the cake.
No more than an hour before serving, sift the cocoa powder over the topping so that it covers the top of the cake.  Slice the cake into squares and serve. Store this cake, covered in aluminum foil, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
(The only modification I made was with the syrup.  Instead of Kahlua or other liqueur, I substituted the same amount of hot water with a little extra instant coffee.  The liquid was the same, in other words.)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

TWD (Rewind!): Challah

This is another Tuesdays With Dorie recipe from last month that I was unable to make because of the Christmas Craziness!  I'm so glad I decided to make it yesterday.  My whole family is in love with this lightly sweet, soft, chewy bread, and we've already devoured one of the two loaves.

The recipe is straight forward as far as bread-making.  Two rises, then shaping, then another rise, then an egg wash, then baking.   An all-day affair, really.  Or at least a long afternoon.

Worth it?   Oh yes!

This was my first attempt at a double braid.   I found a very helpful video on YouTube, and had to watch it over and over again to get it just right.  As you can see, my first braid turned out a little wonky (the bottom one), but my second was just right (top)!

Lauren Groveman is the contributer for this recipe, and she has the recipe and perfect instructions here on her website, Lauren Groveman's Kitchen.  Take a look around---Lauren has oodles of fabulous recipes!

We enjoyed our challah warm with honey butter, as recommended by a friend of mine.  She was spot-on.  The sweet honey butter was perfect! 

If you have another snow day today, give this recipe at try.  Your oven will warm your home up, and you'll enjoy a delicious treat with your family for supper.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

TWD (Rewind!): Gingersnaps

The busy-ness of the Christmas season began way back at Thanksgiving time for my family.  I was too frazzled and otherwise-occupied with school events, church events, family events, and all the other craziness that accompanies the Christmas season, and was unable to participate in Tuesdays With Dorie last month.  Finally life is slowing down a little bit, so I'm able to play a little catch up.

Today I baked Gingersnaps, contributed to Baking With Julia by David Blom.  The recipe is simple and yields a small number of cookies.  Perfect for those of us who over-indulged in Christmas treats and want only a few nibbles of something sweet!

~David Blom~
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsulfured molasses
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon molasses mixed with 1 Tablespoon water, for glaze
Put the sugar, molasses, butter, spices, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or work with a hand-held mixer).  Mix on medium-low speed just to cream the ingredients, about 2 minutes.  Add the water and flour and mix on low until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.

Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Shape the dough into a rough square or rectangle, wrap in the plastic, and refrigerate to firm, about 2 hours.  You can make the dough ahead and refrigerate it for 2-3 days or freeze it for up to a month.
Position the racks to divide your oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325.  Set aside two non-stick baking sheets, or lightly grease two baking sheets.
Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface.  (Even after a long chill, the dough will be very soft and sticky, so you'll have to flour the top of the dough and keep checking on the bottom, dusting the counter with more flour as needed.)  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a thickness of between 1/8 and 1/4 inch, taking care to roll up to but not over the edges.  Try to keep the square or rectangle shape--you'll be able to cut more cookies that if you roll a circle.

Dip a small (about 2 inch) cookie cutter into flour and cut as many cookies as you can.  Place the cookies on the baking sheets, leaving just a bit of room between each one---these barely spread.  (Gather the scraps of dough together, wrap them in plastic, and refrigerate until they are cool enough to roll again.)  Using a pastry brush, paint a light coating of the molasses glaze over each cookie.
Bake the cookies for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just slightly firm.  Lift the cookies off the baking sheets and onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula.  The cookies will crisp as they cool.
Gingersnaps will keep in a tightly sealed in or plastic container for about 4 days.

Yield:   about 2 dozen cookies
I modified the instructions a wee bit.  Instead of chilling the dough in plastic wrap, I rolled the dough between two sheets of wax paper.  Then I laid the dough with the wax paper onto a cookie sheet and chilled it for about an hour.  The dough was perfectly chilled and ready to cut! 
Another method I use regularly, and I did with this recipe as well, is to use dowel rods as guides when I roll the dough.  This way I get uniform thickness.  Today I used 1/4 inch dowels, but I have a variety of sizes.
I also added a sprinkling of coarse sugar after applying the glaze before baking.  I just love the crunch that the sugar gives.
This recipe is so delicious!   Since I rolled the dough to 1/4 inch thickness, they were soft in the center and crunchy on the edges.  That's my idea of a perfect cookie!
Happy Baking!

Lego Cake

~*~ Happy Birthday Max!  ~*~
The Lego bricks around the cake are made with Wilton Candy Melts, using a Lego brick silicon mold.  The minifigure on top of the sheet cake is also cake, baked in a silicon mold.  I found both of those on eBay!  Gotta love that!

Saturn Cake

This is my first dairy-free and gluten-free cake, made for a friend's son!   It's a cake made from a boxed gluten-free mix, but the icing is my typical buttercream, made with butter flavored Crisco instead of butter.   My friend and her family all LOVED the cake, and said it was deliciously moist.  Whew!

Saturn's rings are made with a 50/50 blend of gumpaste and fondant, cut into circles and dried.  They are sitting atop skewers, which are pushed all the way through the cake.  

Happy Birthday Matthew!!