Tag Archives: daring bakers

daring bakers and mofo prep!

28 Sep

Hey there! First up, Daring Baker’s September challenge:

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I love working with a laminated dough. Thin, puffy layers of buttery pastry- bring it on. Filled, topped, glazed, you name it, I’ll eat it. I made a lot of puff/danish/croissant dough while working on the book and the one thing I learned about making this stuff vegan is that vegan margarine is salty. Be warned and read your labels for sodium content.

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Here’s my dough after a couple of turns. When making any sort of laminated dough the key is to keep it cold. The way it works is that, when introduced to a hot oven, the cold margarine melts, the liquid evaporates and flaky layers emerge.

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Brushed with a little olive oil and ready to go into the oven. They looked like little, unfilled linzer cookies…

We were given the option to pick sweet or savory for this and I opted for sweet. Our temps have dropped and autumn is in the air, so this recipe called for a simple classic- cinnamon apples.

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I made a simple mixture of peeled, chopped apple, water, sugar and cinnamon and let it simmer stovetop until the apples softened, released their pectin and started to slightly gel. I used Granny Smith so that it would retain a little tartness after cooking. Yum! I think this was Jim’s favorite DB challenge so far.

veganmofo

In other news, Vegan Mofo starts this week! For the uninitiated, Vegan Mofo is the vegan month of food, where vegan bloggers try to blog every day (5 days a week) for the entire month. The goal is to actively promote vegan food and to get everyone active on their blogs. After a very low key summer without much blogging (and a break from the cooking show), I figured this would be a great way to get back in the swing of things, so look forward to posts on all sorts of food related goodness… and some chances to win copies of my cookbook!

Be sure to check out all of the Vegan Mofo participants on Kittee’s blogroll. I’m excited to blog/blabber/bake for the whole month and to see what amazing creations come out of everyone’s kitchen. Plus, isn’t it fun saying “mofo”?

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Daring Baker’s Challenge = quasifail

27 Aug

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This challenge was a fail for me, with no fault to the hosts. I was a bit hesitant about this challenge, because it was going to be difficult to veganize. The cake layer calls for 6 eggs and I haven’t had much luck with vegan sponge cake. The toffee topping was another challenge altogether. I am the champion ruiner (an actual title in our home) of several things, and anything related to making stove top candy falls into that category.

Here goes…

I wanted to make a little cake, so rather than baking 6 individual layers, I made a large, thin sheet cake and cut out 6 5 inch circles.

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My spongecake came out very not spongeworthy (haha!). Rather, it was dense and rubbery. Silken tofu was not my friend this round. Oops.

I made my own chocolate buttercream, as the one called for used eggs. The top wedges were supposed to be dipped in a beautiful amber colored toffee that would rapidly harden. I was all prepared with my oiled offset spatula and parchment… and it failed. Light colored, wouldn’t harden. And this isn’t the first time I’ve run into this. Here is my question: could it be organic sugar? Back before we were veg (which also coincides with before we cared about what we put in our bodies), I never had problems caramelizing regular crap sugar. What could it be?

For what it’s worth, here are the pictures.

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The whole minicake, topped with not-amber not-hardening sticky wedges. 😦

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And inside shot of all of the layers. Well, it kind of looks like it’s supposed to… kind of. Better luck next month!

daring bakers!

27 Jun

This is my first month participating in the Daring Bakers Challenge! I don’t know why I haven’t participated up until now, but I’m glad that I’m now in the loop. My first Daring Bakers Challenge and Foodie Fights all in one week! Wow.

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

I had never heard of a Bakewell Tart before, so I was very intruiged. I have to admit, having never been terribly impressed with British food in the past, I was in the same boat as our friend Shelly. I just wasn’t terribly excited about this one. Ah, silly me.

Here is a real look at what my kitchen looks like when I bake. It’s kind of sad, a crowded counter, overflowing onto the stove top, and my ever-present laptop providing entertainment. I’ve been on a Mad About You kick lately. Can you believe those fools at NBC have only released the first 3 seasons on DVD? What is wrong with them?

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A Bakewell Tart has a shortbread crust, a thin layer of jam and is then topped with a top layer that is almost a cross between a pudding and a cake. The top we used for the challenge was a frangipane, which consists of primarily butter, eggs and ground almond meal. Given that I’ve never had one before, I wasn’t sure how to approach veganizing the eggs, as all different egg replacers have such different consistency. I read someone describe it as being reminiscent of pound cake, so I opted for silken tofu. My almond meal was not blanched, so there are dark specks of skin.

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I was going to use some of my homemade jam, but given that we are down to the last 2 jars and I was feeling some trepidation about this recipe, I opted for some tart cherry preserves from the store.

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Now, topped with the frangipane… it was looking a little sickly and I started to lose faith.

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Now, occasionally, I am wrong. This would fall into that category. The crust was fantastic, perfectly crisp and EB-buttery. The tart jam nicely contrasted with the soft, slightly creamy frangipane topping. I baked it a few minutes too long, as evidenced by how brown it was, but it was very forgiving.

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The house smelled so wonderful, it was hard to let it cool. The frangipane married the crust so beautifully, I hesitated to cut into it. Appetite trumps aesthetic, however.

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The crust was firm enough to eat it like a slice of pizza, which is great because I tend to eat at my desk and this was my breakfast for a couple of days this last week.

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I am so happy to have added this to my baking repertoire. It’s amazing what you can learn when you pull your head out of your ass. I’m sorry for doubting you, England!

I based both elements of this recipe off of the recipe given to us for the challenge. Here it is, with my alterations added in. I did pull out my scale to ensure accurate proportions, and I’m glad I did because the Imperial measurements below didn’t match up. I did not, however, bother to write down what it did come out to, so weigh it if you can!

Bakewell Tart

    Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
(I made this in my food processor in about 2 minutes)

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) Earth Balance
3 tablespoons soy yogurt
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the soy yogurt with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) Earth Balance, softened
125g (4.5oz) powdered sugar
9 tbsp. firm silken tofu, blended with 2 tbsp. soy milk.
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream EB and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the tofu in three batches, beating well after each addition. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft and easily spreadable.

To make the tart:

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the crust to fit a 9 inch tart pan. Press it in, and trim edges as needed. Place prepared crust in freezer for 15 minutes. While crust is chilling, prepare frangipane. After 15 minutes, remove crust from freezer and spread a layer of jam in the bottom of the crust to coat the bottom. Cover with frangipane and spread to coat. Bake for 30 minutes, sprinkling on sliced almonds 5 minutes before finished baking. Let cool completely before slicing.

Be sure to stop by on Monday to see my Foodie Fights entry and to vote on who you think did best with their ingredients!