quinta-feira, 27 de agosto de 2009

August Daring Bakers' Challenge

Today is the reveal day for the Daring Baker Challenge. So here you are

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte)?

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.
Lorraine and I would like you to make this famous cake which we chose in the spirit of being Daring and Challenging us. Variations are discussed at the end of this post and as always, if you have to make substitutions for dietary or financial reasons, that is fine.

Sponge cake layers
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping
1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches
a 7” cardboard round
12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:
NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.

5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:
1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.

2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.

3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos
1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.

2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.

3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.

4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

Audax Artifex , another Daring Kitchen member, gave us some very useful tips, which I'll post below, as an extra help if you decide to try your skills in this torte:

Prepare the baking paper – iron both sheets to make them flat and smooth. Then spray some oil spray on the baking sheet and place one sheet on it do not spray the top side. Then spray the other sheet and cover the oil evenly with cocoa powder (or flour).
This is the most important step place some batter on the paper without the oil and spread as evenly as possible take your time and do a good job, the better you do here the easier it is to cut and you will have less wastage.
Then place the other paper with the cocoa (or flour) on top of the spread out layer. The cocoa helps you remove the top sheet and helps when you spread the top of batter with the rolling pin. Now use a light weight 12oz (330grams) or less rolling pin and roll very gently over the paper, do it very gently, at first use your fingers to take the weight of the rolling pin then slowly and gently while rolling use the full weight of rolling pin, you shouldn't have batter coming from the edges this makes for a very flat even layer. Hold the rolling pin level to the pan with your fingers just below the height of the paper so when you roll gently the action is only making the top of the layer even. The idea is to even out the top of the batter and not move batter to edges. A good torte sponge can take the weight of the rolling pin and not move too much of the batter to the edges. This method does not work well if you haven't done a good job on spreading the batter onto the parchment paper in the first place. It makes for a very smooth flat thin layer when presentation is paramount.
Bake in the oven, when you smell sponge it is ready this layer took about 4 mins and you will find that the top parchment paper lifts and puffs up from the sponge layer and makes for easy removal. If you are making very thin layers - when the sponge is still warm cut into the shape you require using a knife or scissors. How thin can you make the sponge. No the sponge isn't crisp in fact it is soft - I find that thin layers are nicest and hold the max amount of icing.

Ok, it may sounds far more difficult than it really is. I must confess I was afraid. This is my first time in DB and this Dobos Torte is a real challenge. Although I'm not very fond of sponge cake ( to speak frankly I don't like it even a bit), I enjoyed each and every part of the process. I may say I've learned a lot with that.

I'd like to thank Lorraine and Angela for this opportunity to push my limits. It was really great.

Special thanks to Audax Artifex for the helpful tips.
That's all for for today, folks. See you

sexta-feira, 14 de agosto de 2009

Daring Cooks' Challenge

As i said on previous post, last Sunday (august, 9) was Father's Day here in Brasil, so I decided it would be the perfect day to cook my first DC Challenge.
The August 2009 Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes. She chose a Spanish recipe, the Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes, by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. He trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his three Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. José Andrés lives now in Washington DC and he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…). The recipe Olga brought us is from his US TV show Made in Spain
I will post below the original recipe from Olga. My comments are written in red.
Ingredients (serves 4):
· 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
· 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
· 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
· 1 glass of white wine
· 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh). I used squid.
· “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
· 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person)
· Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
· Saffron Threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
· Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional

1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
3. Cut artichokes in eights.
4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
I couldn't find good artichokes. They were too small, too ugly and too espensive. And so were the asparagus. I bought only one artichoke and completed with fresh heart of palm. They are very common and cheap here. They have a very good taste too.
I had some ground safron, but it didn't give much colour to the rice. I don't know what might have happened. I added a pinch of ground "urucun", a kind of seed used to colour fish dishes. It has no taste nor smell, just a redish beatiful colour. Here they are:

(a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at timesdifferent vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms). Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

· 2 tablespoons of olive oil
· 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
· 2 small onions, chopped
· 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
· 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
· 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
· 1 Bay leaf
· Salt
· Touch of ground cumin
· Touch of dried oregano

1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
· 4 garlic cloves, peeled
· Pinch of salt
· Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
· Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José's tips for traditional recipe: It's hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don't give up. It's worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you're adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes

· 1 small egg
· 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
· 1 garlic clove, peeled
· 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
· Salt to taste

1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
4. Little by little, add what's left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
8. Add salt to taste.

José's tips for modern recipe:(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don't throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

Olga’s Tips:(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.(7) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video(8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.

I made the traditional allioli and it was wonderful. Very good texture and added an umbelievable flavour to the whole thing.

This is the rice at the pan

This is the dish served. Look at my safron/urucun olive oil

My husband and kids loved it. Thanks Olga for this amazing chance to try something new.

Father's Day

Recently I've joined The Daring Kitchen Challenges. This is a interesting site. The members cook and bake the same recipe each month and discuss the results on the forums. At a previous determined day we must post our job in our blogs. I've applied for both Daring Cooks' and Daring Bakers' challenges.
Last Sunday was Father's Day here in Brasil, so I decided it would be a good idea cooking and baking those recipes for that day.
I'm very excited with my first participation on this DK thing. Today is the reveal date for the Daring Cooks'. On August, 27 it will the right time for the Daring Bakers'.