July 30, 2008

the ugly gateau

it was a lovely summer, and the new oven was a welcome site to the kitchen.

"together we shall make great things," said the mixer. and they did just that. the two were a match made in heaven making cookies, cakes and pies of all forms and flavours. that is, until the filbert gateau.
filbert was baked and assembled as directed, but something wasn't right. feeling ashamed of it's appearance, and fears of inadequacy, filbert fled the warmth of it's kitchen home.
filbert travelled to the far reaches of the refrigerator where it was cool and began to think.
and think.
and think.
the 1% milk turned to filbert and asked, "you smell good, so i'm sure you taste good. you've got a pretty plate- what's your problem?"
filbert thought about where it came from- mere eggs, sugar, a little flour and a lot of nuts; thought about being in the mixer in different stages and then finally all folded together and growing in the oven- then washed with a warm apricot glaze. and then filbert remembered the best part- the swiss meringue praline buttercream filling and decorations! a strange smile came across filbert's face. the strawberries thought filbert was nuts- which he was.
filbert needed to get out of the fridge. "but how?" filbert asked. and then it happened: the door opened and filbert was reached for!
"I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly gateau."this month's challenge is brought to us by chris of mele cotte. check out what the other daring bakers came up with here!

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cook the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

July 20, 2008

firehall fun

we spent about an hour today at our local firehall for the annual open house. seth was definetly the most excited of all the kids- that's him with his cousin, violett, who was more concerned with that knob thing. seth waited a very long time to sit in the driver's seat. and then the fireman told him to put the headphones on. talk about highlight of the day!
violett stared at this fireman, who was brittish i think, until i put her in his lap... then nuttin'.
just as i was taking this pic seth said he was going to take a bite of cake. that's our neighbour, tessa, with him.
it was so hot today that no one, well, no one but zoe was brave enough to put the ENTIRE firefighter's outfit on! she even has the tank on!

a big thank you to our local firehall! keep up the great work!

July 19, 2008

*cough* blueberry pie *cough*

the first year we lived in the house i made a beautiful fresh bing cherry pie. it was so tasty, and i wanted to share it with our neighbours. s was so excited to have a home baked pie (his wife doesn't bake pies...yet) he dove right in.
and then spit it out.
aparently he didn't like cherries. blueberry pie is his favourite i soon found out, and yesterday i finally got around to making one with some of the wild berries we picked last fall. all throughout dinner he kept coughing "blueberry pie *cough*!"
this time the pie ended up in his tummy and not back on the plate.

alaskan wild berry pie
adapted from retro pies by linda everett

2 cups blueberries, huckleberries or similar fruit; washed and sorted

1 cup sugar

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/8 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup blueberries (or whatever you're using), washed and sorted

pastry for double, 9-inch pie crust

1 tbsp all purpose flour

preheat oven to 425 degrees.

in a medium bowl, combine the 2 cups berries with sugar, lemon juice, and nutmeg. toss gently avoid smashing berries. stir in flour. turn into a saucepan and cook on low just until mixtures bubbles. remove from heat. cool. sprinkle the single tablespoon of flour over the bottom of the crust and cover with the cup of raw berries. pour cooked filling over raw berries and top with crust; cutting a few steam vents. place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10minutes. reduce heat to 350 and continue cooking until crusty is lightly browned and filling is bubbly. serves 6-8


i saw on one of my fellow daring baker's blogs, my sweet cupcakes, that she did the coolest looking meme. all pictures.i've never done one, and since no one has passed me one to date i decided to do one on my own.
so here goes:

the rules:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name
1. Thanks Deb!!!, 2. 14th August 2007 / Day 226, 3. Olde Towne, 4. green spar, 5. CHRISTIAN BALE, 6. Hairy marie the highland cow, 7. I can see you!, 8. Apple Pie, 9. disney floyd, 10. Lost and Found, 11. there's nothing better than summer, 12. andy warhol banana cake

July 16, 2008

max and ruby

just a taste of some of my animation! even though i've posted mostly about my baking and kids, i figure i should post some of my work that's already aired. this is a clip from max and ruby's hallowe'en.

now to get to work on my demo reel...

July 14, 2008

happy birthday, gramma!

i know, it looks like some strange alien rock. what is it? it's my mom's birthday cake! my mom loves ice cream so i decided to make her something that i've been dying to try out for years... a watermelon bombe! i first saw it in a martha stewart magasine many years ago, and then on her "living" show. a few months ago i finally got the ice cream attachment for my KA mixer, and now watermelons are finally not too expensive at the grocers. i couldn't find pistachio ice cream anywhere so i added some green gel paste food colouring some plain ole vanilla. one whole 2 litre container will do both the green and white parts of the bombe. the watermelon sorbet is to die for! i added peppermint schnapps instead of the white creme de minthe because that's what i had. i tried to make her vanilla ice cream as well, but it just wasn't good enough for this concoction- dorie's vanilla ice cream is much, much better. i think the only thing that i would definitely change is the vanilla sponge cake (although when i made it it was really hot even at 10pm and made a mistake with the division of the sugar- i didn't divide it so it was a little too sweet- oops!). probably a pound-type cake would be much better. i also wouldn't put plastic wrap in the bowl first, a good run under warm water would have gotten the bombe out of the mould just fine. i think a nice smooth finish would be much better than alien rock! lol

if you're interested in making this, all the instructions and recipes can be found here at martha's site.
happy birthday, gramma!

July 08, 2008

showing off again

my garden is bursting with flavour this year! first strawberries, and now raspberries! they're not supposed to be ripe for another few weeks i thought, but some were just too ready to resist. i got about 1/2 pint of those little gems and there's more still on the vines. now for the money shots:

i'll post about the cookies another time, needless to say they were enjoyed.

July 03, 2008

showing off

it's been way too hot to bake here- bad for my boredom, good for my strawberries! late last year i was given one strawberry plant and it spread and grew and spread some more...so from that one plant in only one year i picked about a pint of fresh super sweet strawberries from my own garden! woot!
here's a shot from ella's dress rehearsal. the ballet was called "sleepover spoiled". it's hard to see, but that's our girl getting her hair pulled and throwing the popcorn up in the air. it was too funny- during the show she made her startled face, giggled a bit, and went back to the face. like we didn't notice! cheekythis is my boy. kaliedascope and magnifying glass at the same time.

i'll get to more baking once it's cooled down a bit.

July 01, 2008

happy birthday canada!

happy birthday to the best country in the world!

i don't really like molson beer, but the commercial is awesome and says it all...