Posts Tagged ‘daring bakers’


Daring Bakers Caramel Cake

November 29, 2008


It’s that time again – Daring Bakers reveal day! I’ve skipped the past two months (very naughty of me, missing two in a row) but I’ve been busy with uni (you probably noticed the lack of posts!) and battling it out with my stomach to figure out what it was I couldn’t eat (soy, but I tested gluten and dairy along the way). But I’m back, and just in time for a fabulous challenge courtesy of Dolores, Alex and Jenny, with help from Natalie. The task at hand was to reproduce Shuna Fish Lydon’s signature caramel cake with caramelised butter icing.


I found it pretty straightforward – fun making something a bit different, especially the butter icing, and it was utterly delicious. We still have a little caramel syrup leftover, which is going to go nicely over some of our fresh homemade vanilla ice-cream sometime very soon!

caramelsThere was also a bonus challenge this month; to make Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert. These were a little more challenging – not because they were difficult, so much, as just a little bit stressful not knowing how long I was supposed to wait for the mixture to get to temperature. I do enjoy this sort of cooking, though – very chemical-reaction like, although requires a fair bit of patience and attentiveness to catch the change at the right stage! However, these turned out very well, and I pressed some vanilla sea salt into the tops of the caramels once they had set.

Thanks to this month’s hosts, and I look forward to December’s challenge… Bring it on! 🙂


Daring Bakers – Chocolate Eclairs

August 31, 2008

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was to recreate Pierre Herme’s chocolate eclairs, as chosen by Tony and Meeta. The recipe calls for a chocolate pastry cream filling as well as the chocolate glaze, and although we had the freedo to swap one of these for a non-chocolate option, well, seriously, chocolate! Who am I to swap that mighty flavour for another?

I was a little disappointed with my choux – it looked beautiful until I took it out of the oven, but immediately deflated – which no doubt means I undercooked it a bit. Never mind, though, it tasted great, and didn’t look too bad once packed full of delicious chocolate pastry cream. They were a bit too delicious, in fact – we managed to consume the massive batch far too quickly, and even with the help of four boys I felt a tad guilty… Also, we couldn’t bear to wait long enough for me to take a good photo… So sorry about that!

Be sure to check out all the other amazing eclairs on the Daring Bakers’ Blogroll!


Daring Bakers July – Filbert Praline Gateau

July 30, 2008

July’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mele Cotte, and I was thrilled to see another cake on the agenda! This month our objective was to produce a Filbert (read: hazelnut – my understanding is that a filbert is a particular variety of hazelnut, but normal hazelnuts are pretty equivalent) Gateau, with a praline buttercream. I enlisted Hamish’s help to produce this for his brother’s homecoming (he’s been living overseas for several years, so it was a bit of an event), and we churned it out in the space of about four hours (possible slightly less, although I waited until the following morning to decorate – which didn’t take long anyway).

I used Kahlua in my buttercream instead of the prescribed liqueurs, and cut back quite a bit on quantity – but I’m not a fan of liqueur with cake and it didn’t really do it for me. I followed the recipe to the letter, and was disappointed with a reasonably short cake – next time I would use a smaller tin, to achieve the grandeur of height. After all, with a cake this fussy it’s nice to make an impression!

Another change I would probably make next time round would be to increase the buttercream – I think 1.5 times the amount called for would have been a better balance. I’ve also learnt that praline buttercream isn’t the best for piping with – it seems obvious in retrospect but if I’d reserved some of the buttercream for decoration before I added the praline I would have had to unclog my piping nozzle a lot less frequently (a proper food processor may have solved this problem for me, but I think I would still err on the side of caution).

All in all it was pretty fun to make, and everyone seemed to enjoy it – Hamish thought it was delicious – but
it’s probably not a cake I would make again by choice, because I just didn’t find it that tasty. Great challenge, though! And make sure you check out the other Daring Bakers! 🙂


Daring Bakers June Challenge: Danish Braid

June 29, 2008

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was to make a danish braid, including making the Danish dough (which was easier than I expected – try it!). The recipe we were given was for a very tasty cardomom and orange infused dough, from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking. Thanks to hosts Ben of What’s Cookin? and Kelly of Sass & Veracity!

The challenge was to make the laminated dough, and then create some sort of filling and make a braid. We had our tasty pear-filled braid on Friday evening (my last exam was on Friday, so although I managed to prepare the dough in between bursts of study on Thursday, the filling wasn’t happening until after the exam).

My biggest challenge was proving the dough; being mid-winter, it’s pretty chilly here at the moment, and although we heat the bedroom end of our house (we spend most of our time in our rooms and at that end of the house anyway) it’s still not tropical. I actually had a test run, making a couple of small pastries on Thursday, when I tried to proof in front of the heater while I was studying. I think that was actually too hot, and those pastries didn’t rise or flake. When I came to making the braid I moved the cake upstairs, where we keep the warmth. After an hour the dough was still pretty cool, though, so I decided to move it to the warmer drawer… Which was way too hot! When I checked it after 15 minutes it was browning on top – it had started to bake! So I put it in the oven – since it had started, it wasn’t going to be proving anymore, or so I figured.

It was very tasty, but definitely not proved enough – quite dense in places. I still have some dough – the braid only used about half, so I froze the rest (I’ve been in Auckland all weekend doing the Wilton course 1, which was interesting and will warrant a post and some pretty pictures tomorrow) for use later this week. I was speaking to someone about my woes, and she suggested I put it in the oven on the very lowest temperature setting, so I’ll try that with the next lot. 🙂

Anyway, over today (as it falls around the world) all the other Daring Bakers will be posting their Danish Braids, so go check out the blogroll – and if you want to try the recipe, Kelly’s blog hosts it in all its glory – click here!


A sort of Daring Bakers round-up

June 1, 2008

I’ve spent a bit of time trawling through the amazing (and large!) Daring Bakers blogroll over the last couple of days, to see the impressive variety of Opera Cakes that the members have come up with. I’m amazed by what people have created, so want to share a few of my favourites here – I hope you enjoy looking (and drooling) too!

Lemonpi made this beautiful green tea, lemon and blackberry Opera Cake – it sounds delicious, and looks amazing!

Anita from Dessert First had another interesting , I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that flavour combination; her Opera Cake is Lemon and Lavender.

Very from Baking Obsession came up with this amazingly beautiful Opera Cake, with a white chocolate rose on top. Wow!

Addicted Sweet Tooth had the very gourmet flavour combination of pistachio and apricot – and stunning photography!

Pixie from Biting Goodness wrote a mini-opera about her experiences!

Hannah from Bittersweet came up with a whole new method for preparing a perfectly neat Opera Cake…

Judy from Judy’s Gross Eats came up with a fun twist on words for her cake – check it out here.

Speedbump Kitchen used one of my favourite non-traditional techniques to add the theme to her version.

La Casserole Carree is written in French, but her photos are beautiful enough to speak for themselves – and her Opera Cake has a gorgeous colour scheme!

Gabi from The Feast Within came up with an Opera Cake that I know will be appreciated by my youngest sister – and by me!

There are many other amazing cakes, so check the blogroll if you’re interested. 🙂 I can see from these (and many other spectacular examples) that I have a long way to go – but hey, it gives me something to aim for!


Daring Bakers

May 28, 2008

This was my first Daring Bakers challenge – unfortunately I’m a little late posting, due to a rather unwieldy assignment worth 40% that I needed to finish – it just kept growing! However, now that’s out of the way I can share with you the details of… Opera Cake!

I decided to make this for Mother’s Day, so it was a couple of weeks ago that I took over the kitchen to make the various layers.

Firstly, a little about the group. Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers who attempt a challenging recipe each month, and then blog about their experiences. There are over 1000 members (you can view the blogroll here). Each month a member (or members) host a challenge, and although you have the whole month to make the recipe it has to be revealed on a set date towards the end of the month.

This month’s recipe is Opera Cake, which is a layered cake made from Jaconde (a type of sponge), mousse, buttercream, and glaze. It’s traditionally made with predominently chocolate and coffee flavours, but the Daring Bakers challenge was to make a light-coloured cake in honour of Barbara, who hosts the LIVEstrong food event, dedicated to those battling cancer. The Opera Cake challenge was posted by Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie, and Shea of Whiskful, along with Lis and Ivonne, who administrate the whole thing.

I enjoyed making the cake, although it was somewhat time-consuming. The jaconde is made with almond meal, and the mousse and glaze with white chocolate, so I decided to complement those flavours with raspberry buttercream.

It was extremely rich, and very tasty – although the slices weren’t too big you didn’t feel like a second piece! (good for the waistline, right?) None of the components were particularly difficult; I was a little worried about the buttercream, as I don’t yet have a candy themometer, but guesswork served me well. Also, I’d recommend doubling the buttercream recipe, as I felt the layers were a bit thin (and it is very tasty!) – and I made it the night before, and tried to beat it back into shape, but it was a little lumpy still – the texture was perfect when I made it, so next time I’ll make it when I want it.

I’d like to try this again, but with milk and/or dark chocolate; I prefer the flavours, and think the richer chocolate might balance the sweetness a little. Also, aesthetically I like contrast – and you can’t even tell where the white chocolate mousse becomes a white chocolate glaze here. 😉 Still very tasty, though – thanks, Daring Bakers!

The recipe can be found here, if you’re interested, and be sure to check out the blogroll!