Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August Daring Bakers Challenge - Dobos Torta

I know that I didn't get around to posting last month's daring bakers challenge, but the truth is I didn't get a chance to do much baking. But now that I'm getting settled into my new living quarters, and feeling more comfortable in my new kitchen I think the bakes will be coming a long much more smoothly. This month's daring bakers recipe seemed very exciting! I love making cakes, and this torta recipe sounded like it would be delicious and have a great wow-factor. And now... on with the recipe!

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 Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.


Dobos Torta

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp (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:

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 center 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:

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.


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-colored 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 center 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 flavor.


This cake didn't actually take that much time at all to prepare! The cake was very simple to make and it baked very quickly, despite having to bake several layers. I don't usually use an egg-based buttercream for my recipes but this one was very good. It reminded me of a delicious chocolate pudding, and I had to control myself from eating too much of it so that I would have enough of the buttercream to spread on the cake. Assembling the cake was also very simple... the only part I had a tough time with was cutting the caramelized layer of cake... the toffee coating does become very hard, and even though I cut the cake versus only scoring it, it took some hacking at the candy to make the decorative wedges come apart. I only had enough hazelnuts to decorate the sides of the cake, and so I had to use chocolate-covered fruits & nuts to help prop up the decorative caramel-wedges. These chocolates actually worked very well, and their color blended into the chocolate buttercream so you could hardly tell that they were helping angle the wedges. I would possibly consider making this recipe again if a big party comes around and I want to wow the guests, but I am much more confident that I will be making another batch of the buttercream... mmmm, gotta love the choco-pudding taste!!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Blue Cheese Scones

The good thing about blue cheese is that since it's already moldy, it doesn't expire very quickly... the bad thing about it is that I honestly had know idea what to make with the remaining piece of my blue cheese wedge. Whenever I am plum out of ideas from my cookbooks/noggin I head for the internet and the place to search was the Rosenborg webpage. Most of the time the manufacturers of food products have some pretty decent recipe ideas that are not only tasty but very simple and use few ingredients (I think the idea is to showcase their product's ease and versatility! Those guys are brilliant)... so anyways, I stumbled upon many recipes that peaked my interest, but settled for one that suited my baking addiction... Blue Cheese Scones! The recipe can be found here.


These scones were divine!! I decided to forgo sprinkling the extra bits of cheese on top of the scones because I thought that it would make for sloppy looking scones, and that the blue cheese fragrance and taste would be too strong. In all actuality, I could have sprinkled on the cheese because although the flavor was very powerful, when baking, the pungent moldy smell and taste is mellowed and the true cheese-flavor rings through. The scones were wonderfully flaky and buttery and I very much enjoyed the cheesy taste. They taste the best when they're fresh from the oven; so, if serving them for breakfast the next day, be sure to toss them in the microwave or toaster oven to warm up before you snack on them. I definitely recommend this recipe for anyone who loves blue cheese, and for those who've never ventured out to try the moldy stuff this recipe will help ease you into loving the taste of blue cheese!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rosemary- Blue Cheese Rice

Whipped up a quick and easy lunch for one! Yup, I've got to learn to cook for myself so that I don't end up with a whole fridge full of unfinished food. And if I continue to cook up lunches like this tasty dish, then I don't think I'll have any problem with left-overs :P

Rosemary-Blue Cheese Rice

Ingredients:
- 3 cups cooked rice (a mixture of wild, brown and white)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup red cooking wine
- 50g crumbled blue cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tsp sugar

Method:
1. Heat rice in the microwave so that it is warmed through.
2. In a small pot, heat the oil on medium and add in the rosemary. Once fragrant, add in the chopped onion, and continue cooking until tender.
3. Add in half of the cooking wine, and then add in the blue cheese. Continue to stir the mixture until the cheese melts. Add some salt and pepper, and the sugar.
4. Add in the rice to the pot and stir until the rice is nicely coated with all of the blue cheese "sauce".
5. Place rice on a nice plate and serve!

This recipe actually made enough rice for two people, so I suppose I'll just eat the rest for dinner or for lunch tomorrow... who knows? The sugar and the red cooking wine cuts the sharpness of the blue cheese while still keeping that distinct cheese flavor. I simply loved this rice, it was irresistible! I ended up almost cleaning the pot without washing it... jkjk, I washed it :P This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yay! Testing out the Oven at my Condo

HOORAY! Today marks the day that I am living on my own! A little bit frightening, but a little bit exciting at the same time. I woke up this morning to a beautifully clear sky, and I was ready to start my day with a big breath of fresh air so I went for a 10k run. After an exhilirating early morning run, I decided that since my day wasn't going to be too eventful I would have some time to try out my condo oven! Having purchased a large bag of bananas (2 bunches for only $1.99) and knowing that I would not be able to eat all of the bananas before they go bad, because I'm now living on my own, I thought I'd use some in a recipe! Bananas also make a delicious post-run snack, so while I was whipping up a batch of Banana-nut-n-Oat cookies I decided to munch on a plain ol' banana... mmm, tasty!

So here it is! My first baking adventure in my new place!

Banana-Nut and Oat Drop cookies
Yields 17 cookies

Ingredients:
- 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp each vanilla extract and almond extract
- 60g (1/4 cup) celeb margarine
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 medium banana
- 1/3 cup almonds, crushed

Method:
1. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside
  • Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside

  • In another bowl, beat celeb and sugar. Add in egg and continue beating.

  • Add in flour mixture until blended, then add in semisweet chocolate, banana and almonds.

    Drop by tbsp onto a greased baking pan and bake at 375degrees for 11-13minutes!
  • Sunday, August 09, 2009

    7 Traits: An Award/Meme

    I've been given this Meme from my gal Palidor over at http://crazyasiangal.blogspot.com/, thank you very much... I haven't done a meme in quite some time :)

    Here are the rules of this Meme:
    1. Acknowledge the person who gave you the award (thanks Palidor!)
    2. Nominate 7 other blogs
    3. Share 7 personality traits
    Here are my nominees... I'd sure love to find out what there 7 personality traits may be.
    - Steph at Obsessed with Baking
    - Small Small Baker at Small Small Baker
    - Camille at Rtemis
    - Gattina at
    Kitchen Unplugged
    - Irene at Irene's Rumbles
    - Sheryl at Crispy Waffle
    - Belachan at
    Little Corner of Mine

    And now one with rule #3... listing my personality traits

    1. I guess one would call me a realist. In terms of guessing what the future holds, I'm not really an optimist, or a pessimist but I like to analyze the situations around me in order to determine what would be the most rationally occurring event. If you ask me whether the glass is "half-empty" or "half-full" my response would have to be in relation to the question... "well, did you recently pour water into the glass or take a sip from the glass?"

    2. Obsessive, I am definitely an obsessive individual. Once I've set my mind to complete something I must do it, or else I will most definitely beat myself up about not completing it. I can never do anything without putting my whole heart and all my effort into it... if I go for a run with the mentality of completing a 10k, I can't cut my run short or else I feel like a lazy bum.

    3. Perfectionist, this is probably the best/worst trait for me to have. Whenever I bake and something goes right I am very proud of myself and ready to great the world head-on... however, when something goes wrong during my time in the kitchen, everything goes downhill. I start to get bummed out because I start believing that I can't accomplish my baking/cooking task, and then my mind starts to wander which results in the inevitable baking/cooking failure... an impossible to present dish

    4. Egocentric, again, not a very nice trait but it is me none-the-less. Although I do occasionally enjoy making others around me happy I am a very self-centered individual. If I'm not happy, I really must remove myself from big social settings, lest I make the rest of the group uncomfortable... yes, I'm sometimes a downer who always wants her own way.

    5. Thrifty, this is probably the most prominent trait I express. I am Asian through and through, I will often stop by the supermarket even if I don't intend to purchase anything, simply so that I can walk through all the aisles and gather coupons that can be utilized at other times when the products are on sale... because on sale + coupon = major savings!! I am one of those people who take shampoos/soaps from hotels; asks for extra packs of peanuts on planes and saves them for an off-flight snack sometime during my vacation; and yes, I have asked for a refill on my "bottom-less fries" simply to ask the waitress to pack them to go... Also, my fave place to shop is called McFrugal's... so that's saying something :P

    6. Distractable, it doesn't really take much to get me off topic and keep me off topic. I don't know what's wrong with the rails in my brain, but one's you hit the track-switch I'm off on a tangent with no capability of return unless you remind me where I was. I blame the internet, who invented this "tabbing application"? It is seriously a major cause for ADD. I can go on the web with the only intention of checking my e-mail, and then randomly end up on facebook, craigslist, ebay and attempting to buy merchandise from thinkgeek.com!!! AAAAHHH!

    7. Indecisive, it seems that my friends and I share this trait. Don't ask us what we do on our nights out because we certainly don't know until we're actually doing it! Many of our conversations go a little something like this...
    "Do you guys want to see a movie?"
    "sure, if you want to"
    "I'm okay with going, if you are"
    "I guess we can go then"
    "why not" ... and so on, and so forth... crazy, no?

    Anyways, so that's pretty much me. Woah, I never realized that almost all of my traits are negative... dude that's not cool. Oh well, I'm not going to bother changing it... so I guess my 8th trait would have been laziness :P

    What to do during a heat wave??



    AAHHH!! Just managed to survive a 6-day heat wave with my sanity intact, but just barely. I actually took a girls-only trip to Whistler with a couple friends and the heat was so intense (reaching aroung 40C) that we actually saw a forest fire on the mountain!!! I can't believe that this is going to be the site of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games! Hopefully there'll be more cool weather and some real snow by the time the games roll around.

    But anyways, after coming back from the Whistler trip with my friends, I decided to treat my family to a recipe that we hadn't enjoyed in a long time. Something simple, easy and refreshing to help us cope with the unbearable heat. Ais Kacang!! YEAY! My sisters simply love this dessert, the shaved ice and evaporated milk, ice cream and other various ingredients. My youngest sister really loves grinding the shaver and watching the little snow-like pieces of ice drop from the machine... soo cute!!

    I also made some cendol because I love the pandan flavor, and it tastes so good with the coconut milk and shaved ice!! It reminds me of being in Singapore! AAHHH!! I really want to go back sometime soon. The recipe for Cendol I used can be found at Rose's Kitchen. The only alterations I made to this recipe were to add about 1/4-1/3 cup of rice flour to the mix, in order to make a firmer and more chewy cendol. I know they look like greenish-turds but they are seriously delicious!

    The ingredients we used for our Ais Kacang were: shaved ice, coconut milk, evaporated milk, gula melaka syrup, cendol, halo-halo, jackfruit, sweetened red beans, vanilla ice cream, and creamed corn!! It would have been nice to have some grass-jelly or durian to add in, but all-in-all it was a great way to beat the summer heat, and a lot of fun to design our own personal desserts... we must do it again soon!

    Saturday, August 01, 2009

    AAHH! Sorry for the lack of postage...

    I know it's been quite a while since I last posted a recipe or anything on my site, but don't worry. I'm not about to close-shop on my beloved blog. I'm just a bit caught up with the condo move-in at the moment. I'm planning to move in by the end of August; the mortgage has gone through and all the financing looks to be in order so now all I have to do is find some affordable furniture to stock the place with :P Well, just to keep you guys interested I'll post a couple pics of the place... and the kitchen! It's a 3-bedroom condo with a huge living/dining room and a kitchen that comes with a stainless steel fridge, microwave and OVEN!! My place is on the 2nd story of this 4 story building, which is good because I'm not a huge fan of heights. Yay! I'm so excited to be moving into my new place, but also a little freaked out by the entire process... well, anyways... here are the pictures.
    Oooo, so bright and cheery!! Can't wait to move in for good :)


    This is the spacious living room... a beautiful "blank canvas", just imagine the design possibilities

    What cooking adventures will be had with this new oven?? We'll have to wait and see!

    Yup, I'm quite excited about my kitchen... probably the first room in the condo that will be completely furnished within the first week of moving :P

    A beautiful walk-way just beside my new residence, it leads out to the nearby shopping center and movie-plex!

    YEEEEE!! I'm so excited to move in and start being more independent. I will have to have my family and my little doggie over to visit as much as possible... otherwise, living alone and cooking for myself will become uber-tedious! AAHHH and imagine all the crazy bakes that I won't be able to share with my family :( I guess I'll just have to do a lot more surprise visits (with treats in-hand) to my family and friends.