Friday, May 28, 2010

Wilton Course three: Fondant and Tiered Cakes

This was my project for the final in course three.  Wilton will no longer be teaching this class since they have reformated all their courses.  I've signed up to redo the basics class with my daughter.  I know the techniques but she doesn't and it gets her some time out of the house away from baby and gives me practice. 

The cakes for this project I used this recipe called Ultimate Vanilla Pound Cake from "All You" magazine and filled the bottom layer with lemon curd sauce I found at this website.  Hey, you have to have some flavor with a fondant covered cake!  Winnie the Pooh is totally made out of fondant as are the daisies and ribbon.
Ultimate Vanilla Pound Cake
adapted from All You magazine
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large egss, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan. Line bottom and sides with parchment, leaving about an inch of overhang on both sides. Grease and flour paper and pan, tapping out excess.
Sift flour and salt together into a small bow. Set aside. Put butter, vanilla and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until light and pale, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and then scraping bowl between each.
With mixer on low, ad flour to mixture gradually until it is fully incorporated; do not overmix. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Cool cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife along unlined sides of pan and use parchment to carefully lift cake onto wire rack to cool completely. Serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired.

Lemon Curd (makes 1 cup)

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons lemon zest
pinch salt
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a heavy saucepan. Make sure the sugar and yolks are well combined; otherwise the yolks will curdle when the lemon juice is added. Add all other ingredients except the lemon zest and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Do lot let the mixture reach a boil. When the curd has thickened and turned an opaque yellow color, remove from heat and pour through a strainer. Stir in the lemon zest and allow to cool. The curd will thicken as it cools. Can be stored for up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Have the Cake Challenge: Lemon Buttermilk Bundt cake with Lemon Curd Sauce

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I am pleased to be part of another blogging challenge hosted by Rena of  Have The Cake.  This month we were challenged to make a buttermilk cake.  I had no idea there were so many variations of buttermilk cakes!  The opportunities were endless and it was only my recent cravings of lemon that lead me to prepare this cake based upon a recipe at
The original recipe calls for taking the baked bundt cake, poking holes in it and drizzling lemon juice over it.  I have this aversion to soggy cakes so I opted to just add that lemon mixture to the batter before baking.  It was just the lemon intesity I was looking for so I am glad I made it this way!
Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Curd Sauce:
adapted by Vivian Thiele
1 cup butter-softened
2 1/3 cups sugar-divided
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoon fine breadcrumbs
lemon curd Sauce:
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs-lightly beaten
1/4 grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup butter-softened

1.  Butter a 12-cup bundt pan and coat with breadcrumbs.                                                   
2.  In a large mixing bowl,beat butter until creamy. Gradually add 2 cups sugar. Beat well.
      3.  Add eggs one at a time,beating after each addition.
           4.  Combine flour,soda,and salt. Add to butter mixture alternating with buttermilk,beginning and ending with flour. Mix at low speed after each addition.
           5.  Stir in rind and1/2 cup lemon juice.
           6.  Pour batter into prepared pan.
           7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until inserted wood skewer comes out clean.
           8.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack.  Cool completely.
To Make Lemon curd sauce:
1.  Combine first 4 ingredients in top of a double boiler. Bring water to a boil.
2.  Reduce heat to medium and cook,stirring constantly,until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
3.  Add butter one tablespoon at a time. Whisk until blended.
4.  Chill if desired. Serve with Lemon Buttermilk Cake.
 This is definitely going to be a keeper recipe!

Piece Montée - The daring baker challenge for the month of May

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The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Piece Montée, also known as Croquembouche, is the traditional French Wedding cake. The classic piece montée is a high pyramid/cone made of profiteroles (cream-filled puff pastries) sometimes dipped in chocolate, bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons.

The recipe has 3 main components we were to complete: the pate a choux, the crème patissiere, and the glaze used to mount/decorate it.  We had several flavors of the crème to choose from but I opted for the vanilla and chocolate.  For mounting the pate a choux I chose chocolate this time instead of the caramel.  I hope to use the caramel in the future as I would love to try spinning it around the pastry... so dramatic looking and yet another technique to try. 

I doubled the recipe of the Vanilla Crème Patissiere and kept half vanilla and added chocolate to the other half. I had no problems what so ever with the Crème Patissiere, but I ended up having to remake the pate a choux because the first batch came out flat.
Pate a Choux
(Yield: About 28)

¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

   1.  Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Preparing batter:Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.
         2.  Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.
           3.  Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.  As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.  It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
          4.  Piping: Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
5.  Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).                            
            6.  Baking: Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. 
Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Filling: For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

1.  Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
    2.  Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
    3.  Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
    4.Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
     5.  Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze

To Make Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée:
Take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up.
When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate.  I went for the simplistic design but was thrilled how it turned out!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Daring Cook: Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

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Yikes!  How fast does a month go by anyway???  I completed the challenge this month on May 5th... Cinco de Mayo. So much has been going on though that I completely spaced out posting this on the 14th.  So sorry Daring Kitchen!

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

I never made my own enchilada sauce before nor my own tortillas so I did all the posssible recipes.
While the enchilada sauce ended up being more expensive than buying the stuff in the can AND was quite tedious, it is something that I will do again.  The taste is phenomenal!

1½ pounds Fresh Anaheim chiles (about eight 6 to 8 inch chiles) 24 ounces 678 grams -
roast, peel, remove seeds, chop coarsely.
7-8 ounces Tomatillos (about 4-5 medium)212 grams - peel, remove stems
4 cups Chicken broth (32 ounces/920 grams) I used stock I still had on hand from a previous challenge
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons yellow onion, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ tsp Kosher salt (add more to taste)
¼ tsp Black Pepper (add more to taste)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch (dissolve in 2 tablespoons water, for thickening)
Hot sauce, your favorite, optional
2 Boneless chicken breasts (you can also use bone-in chicken breasts or thighs)
3 tablespoons Olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil (use more as needed)
Kosher salt and pepper
12 Small Corn tortillas (5-6 inch/13-15 cm) I made my own.
6 ounces grated Monterey Jack, 170 grams (other cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican cheeses) can be used. Just be sure they melt well and complement the filling)
Cilantro for garnish, chopped and sprinkled optional

Roasting Fresh Chiles
1. Coat each chile with a little vegetable oil. If you are doing only a couple chiles, using the gas stove works. For larger batches (as in this recipe), grilling or broiling is faster.

2. Lay the oiled chiles on the grill or baking sheet (line pan with foil for simpler clean-up). Place the grill or broil close to the element, turning the chiles so they char evenly. They should be black and blistered.

3. As they are completely charred (they will probably not all be done at once), remove them to a bowl and cover with plastic, or close up in a paper bag. Let them rest until they are cool.

4. Pull on the stem and the seed core MAY pop out (it rarely does for me). Open the chile and remove the seeds. Turn the chile skin side up and with a paring knife, scrape away the skin. Sometimes it just pulls right off, sometimes you really have to scrape it. Do not rinse.

Green Chile Sauce
1. Put a medium saucepan of water on to boil and remove the papery outer skin from the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. You can also grill the tomatillos until soft.
I used the broiler.
2. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor.
3. Return the tomatillos to the saucepan along with the chicken broth, chopped green chiles, minced onion, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir well. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 4-5 cups, another 10-15 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings and add hot sauce if you want a little more heat.

Corn Tortillas (from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen)

1 3/4 cups masa harina
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot water
Pour hot water over masa harina, cover and let sit 30 minutes. Add (additional) cool water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is soft but not sticky.

Divide the dough into 15 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
Heat a large (two burner) ungreased griddle or two large skillets, one on medium-low
and one on medium-high.
Put a ball of dough between two sheets of plastic. If you don’t have a tortilla press, press to a 5-6” circle using a heavy frying pan or bread board or other heavy, flat object. Put the tortilla into the cooler pan or cooler end of the griddle. The tortilla will probably stick, but within 15 seconds, if the temperature is correct, it will release. Flip it at that point onto the hotter skillet/griddle section. In 30-45 seconds, it should be dotted with brown underneath. Flip it over, still on the hot surface and brown another 30 seconds or so. A good tortilla will balloon up at this point. Remove from heat and let them rest while cooking the remaining tortillas. Use quickly.

To make the Stacked Green Chile and Grilled Chicken Enchiladas
1. Heat a gas grill to medium high or build a medium-hot charcoal Coat the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Grill the chicken until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes a side for boneless chicken breasts.
3. Cool and then slice into thin strips or shred.
4. In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil to check – it should sizzle immediately.
5. Using tongs, put a tortilla into the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown on each side, about 15-20 seconds per side (at the most).
6. Drain on paper towels.
7. Add oil as needed and continue until all 12 tortillas are done.
8. In a baking dish large enough to hold four separate stacks of tortillas, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
9. Lay four tortillas in the dish and ladle another ½ cup (4 ounces/112 grams) of sauce over the tortillas.
10. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another ½ cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese.
11. Stack another four tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another third of the cheese.
12. Finish with the third tortilla, topped with the remaining sauce and cheese.
13. Bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese melted, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
14. To serve, transfer each stack to a plate. Spoon any leftover sauce over the stacks and sprinkle with cilantro, if you wish. The stacks may also be cooked in individual gratin dishes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Piece of Cake

I've been enjoying this third course of Wilton's Cake decorating as it uses fondant.  I still don't care for the taste and can't understand why somone would want all that work to go in to something just to have it peeled off and set aside.  Give me a good buttercream frosting any day :-)  I've yet to figure out what my final project will be (some sort of two tiered cake) but I did finish the first project of covering a cake in fondant.  I can't take any credit for the design as it comes straight out of the class booklet.