Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daring Bakers Challenge: Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

My version is a vanilla sponge, filled with berries and a banana custard filling.

Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

- ¾ cup almond flour/meal
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
- ¼ cup cake flour
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg whites

- 2½ tsp white granulated sugar or superfine sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted


  1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
  2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
  3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
  4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
  5. Fold in melted butter.
  6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

- 14 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups + 1½ tbsp confectioners' sugar
- 7 large egg whites
- 1¾ cup cake flour

- Food coloring gel, paste or liquid


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
  2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
  3. Fold in sifted flour.
  4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

  1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approxim ately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet mak es spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
  2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock ba g and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
  3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
  5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
  6. Cool. Do not leave too lon g, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
  7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the MOLD for entremets:
  1. Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
  2. A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.
  3. Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.
  4. Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.

Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:
  1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
  2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
  3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)
  4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
  5. The mold is done, and ready to fill.
Entremet- Filling Options: Mousses, pastry creams, Bavarian creams, cheesecakes, puddings, curds, jams, cookie bases, more cake (bake off the remaining sponge and cut to layer inside), nuts, Dacquoise, fresh fruit, chocolates, gelee.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Burns Night Supper

It hadn't even occurred to me that it was Burns Night, until I returned home from the supermarket already with a haggis in hand. You may be wondering why on earth I decided to purchase Haggis of all things during my spontaneous trip to the store. Well... I can't even explain it. I originally went to the store to buy bananas, as I had run out just this morning, and while I was perusing the aisles, I spotted it... the lying round and plump, like a little baby crying to be swaddled, in the meat department cooler... haggis! For reasons which are beyond my comprehension, I decided to spend $12.30 of my hard earned cash on this lump of meat which I had never tasted in my life (I think being an Anglophile makes you do crazy things). Anyways, I purchased the Haggis and when I got home, realized that I wasn't quite sure how to cook it because the package did not come with instructions. Do I boil it? Bake it? Steam it? hmmm... I think I'll Google it!

What showed up on Google surprised me... for as I searched among pages of recipes I discovered that today was actually Burns Night (a national day celebrating the birth of Scottish poet, Robert Burns). Delighted with the knowledge that I had found a new holiday to celebrate, I set to work in the kitchen preparing what was to be a delicious supper.

I'm not going to post any recipes, because honestly... all I did was cover the haggis in tin-foil and bung it in the oven for 1 hour, alongside some onions, sweet potatoes and cloves of garlic (which I would later use in my potatoes). And I don't really need to post a recipe for colcannon, because hey... anyone can boil potatoes, mash them with garlic + butter + boiled cabbage + salt.

I literally just threw this supper together last minute, and it was sooooo gooood. The haggis, melted in my mouth and was so tender and moist. It reminded me of meatloaf, but without the beefy taste. I don't regret spending my money on the haggis... and if you've never tried it before, you're seriously missing out! Go get some... and have a happy Burns Night!

I think I'll leave you with the first verse of the Burn's Address to The Haggis:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race.
Aboon them a' ye tak your place.
Painch, tripe or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

I actually memorized this verse a while back, after being introduced to it on QI... I know, such a panel-show nerd. But, it shows you that panel-shows can be quite educational.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Green Bean Coconut Kueh

It's been a while since I steamed up some Malay goodies, so I thought this weekend I'd play around and experiment with what ingredients I had in my pantry to make a unique version of my favorite Malay sweet...

Green Bean Coconut Kueh

Coconut Sticky Rice Layer
- 3/4 cup glutinous rice, soaked in water overnight
- 1/2 cup coconut milk + 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- pinch of salt

Green Bean Coconut Layer
- 3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut milk + 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup dried green beans, soaked overnight in water, then boiled until tender
- 1/3 cup dried shredded coconut

1. Combine the soaked rice, coconut milk mixture, sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix well, then pour into your steaming tray (I used a 6inch round tin). Steam over high heat for 45minutes, until rice is cooked.
2. In another bowl, combine the rice flour, sugar, coconut milk mixture, beans and shredded coconut.
3. Pour the flour mixture into the steaming tray, covering the cooked rice in an even layer. Continue steaming the kueh for another 45minutre, until flour layer is firm and cooked through.
4. Remove tray from steamer, allow to cool. Cut into wedges and serve, at room temperature or cold.

I must say, this was a pretty tasty treat! I guess I've made enough kuehs that I know the basics enough to throw together something decent. I hope one day I'll be able to make a cake/brownie/cookie recipe by heart... but baking takes a little bit more calculative work than steaming. Well... after some early morning kitchen antics, I'm off to watch the Arsenal v. Wigan game that I taped from yesterday (and maybe do some tumblr blogging). See ya!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Upside-down Cake

I've taken it upon myself to do a bit more stress-baking. Apparently the powers that be have decided to seriously screw with me this week. Initially, I was really looking forward to working this week because I had swapped shifts around with a friend so that I could work mostly nights (I usually love nights). But, I guess because I was trying to "make my life easier" karma decided to kick it up a notch. After I got home from my shift, which ended at 7am I emptied my scrub pockets to find, to my dismay, the narcotic keys!! When I saw them, my heart sank... "Crap, crap, nooooooo!! Why!!" these words ran like a continuous news broadcast ticker through my mind. AAAARGH!! I had to drive all the way back to work to bring the keys back to the ward!! Nooo... why!!!

Well, after that adventure, I finally made it home and literally collapsed in my bed, ready to sleep until 5pm... but then I remembered that my colleagues and I had planned a pot-luck for our next shift, and I scrambled out of bed to whip up something tasty. Boy, am I glad that tonight's the last shift of my set... I seriously need to take a break and get reset my internal clock. But anyways, here's what I'm bringing to work tonight.

Cinnamon Apple Upside-down Cake

- 1 cup butter
- 1 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp each, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 apples, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
- lemon juice of one lemon
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 325degrees.
2. In a medium sauce-pan, heat 1/2 cup of butter until melted and frothy. Add in 2/3 cup brown sugar and cook over medium-heat until mixture is dark amber and smooth in texture. Add in 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch round, deep dish baking pan.
3. Arrange the sliced apples in a fancy pattern on top of the caramel mixture in the pan, ensuring that the apple slices are tightly tiled over the caramel. Sprinkle lemon juice over top of the apples.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, remaining 1 cup of brown sugar, salt, baking powder and the remaining 1/2 tsp each of the spices.
5. In another bowl, cream together the butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well-combined.
7. Spread the batter over top of the apples in an even layer.
8. Bake for 45-50minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
9. Remove from oven, invert on serving dish and serve warm or at room temperature.

You could smell the heavenly scent of apple and cinnamon wafting through the house... and it nearly made me forget about the fiasco that had happened with the narcotic keys. Needless to say, I'm definitely not carrying the keys tonight... no siree.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soft, Sour Cream Cookies

AAHHHH, okay... so this set of shifts has been uber stressful for me. I'm glad I switched one of my day-shifts with a colleague so that this set I'll be working 1 day and 3 nights, but these nights seem to drag on sooooo loooong. In addition, the weather man decided to be correct for a change and snow actually fell while I was at work... a freaking 5-6inches of it! I had my fingers crossed and was praying that I'd be able to get home, because there was no way I was going to stay at the hospital for longer than my 12hour shift (especially since I'm heading back there tonight for night #2). Luckily, the snow-fall turned to slush-fall and the roads cleared up for me; but, I wasn't taking any chances so I decided to just drive to my parents place because they live closer to the hospital... I thought that it would probably be the best thing to do considering I'd be heading back there tonight anyways.

So, after a restful nap in my snuggly warm bed, I awoke with a great desire to do some baking. I'm pretty sure the desire to bake arose due to --> the intensely snowy weather, work-related stress, and waking up to the news that my favorite football team had been crushed by Ipswich... but anyways, here's the recipe!

Sour Cream Cookies
Yields 15 medium sized cookies

- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- heaping 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream together the butter and sugars until light an fluffy.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and sour cream to the butter mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well incorporated.
5. Add in the chocolate and butterscotch chips.
6. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto a baking sheet, and place in the oven at 350degrees. Bake for 10-12minutes.
7. Place cookies on cooling rack and serve.

OMG! These cookies were so cakey and moist! I'm thinking I have to bring some to work to share with my peeps. I had thought of putting sour cream in my cookies for a long time but just never got around to it because it's not a staple ingredient in my house, but being at my parent's house I found a tub of the stuff and thought to myself, "Today's the day!" Mmmmm... I think I'm just going to huddle by the fireplace with my cookies and a cup of tea until I have to go back to work.

Addendum: How good are these cookies?? Well, they almost made me forget about how sad I was for Arsenal's defeat, but then I went on Tumblr and the pain was relived every time I refreshed my dash. But, life must move on...