Sunday, August 30, 2009

DB: Dobos Torte

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.

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

When I first looked at this recipe I had no idea what to do with such a festive, upscale looking cake. Then coincidentally my mother mentionned she was going to the annual potluck barbecue hosted by the Cancer Agency where she volunteers. PERFECT! Now my cake will have somewhere to make its appearance and be appreciated. The barbecue was on Saturday, so that's the reason/excuse for why this Dobos Torte is a little late for this month's DB. It was a hit! Everyone thought my mom had bought it and asked her what bakery it was from. To me, that's the ultimate compliment.

The ingredients and procedure for this cake are surprisingly simple. As others have mentionned, the most challenging part is the caramel layer. I didn't use the one provided with this month's challenge. I opted for a dry rather than a wet caramel. I cut the slices through all the way before covering with caramel. When the caramel was semi-set I used a very sharp, very buttery knife to cut through the caramel and separate the wedges to set fully. This seemed to work quite well. If i had a Silpat mat I would have definitly used it! My buttercream didn't turn out as dark as I wanted although it was still delicious. I would make this again but reverse the flavors so it would be a white chocolate buttercream on a dark chocolate sponge cake.

I urge you to try this recipe. I have included my adapted version below. For the original, see either one of the hosts' blogs above.

Dobos Torta
Recipe adapted from Kaffehauss by Rick Rodgers | Makes 8" cake

Sponge layers:
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour
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:
200g sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter

Finishing touches:
8" cardboard round
12 whole nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, whatever)

Directions for the sponge layers:
NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.
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.
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 centre 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.

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:
NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.
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. Make sure the butter is very soft (running a knife through it will provide little resistance) before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you’ll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream. 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. Bring to room temperature before spreading the caramel on it. Place the reserved cake layer on a greased jellyroll pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly butter a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low-medium. It will slowly dissolve. Keep a close eye on it and swirl the pot every few minutes. It will also darken. Add the lemon juice when almost all the sugar has dissolved. Lift and swirl. The moment the caramel darkens to an amber color, stir in butter. (It will hiss and bubble and spit at you!). Stir it in to melt it, working quickly before the caramel hardens.
3. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set. Using the tip of the hot buttered knife (keep re-oiling this 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.

Assembling the Dobos:
1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Holding a knife vertically up to the side of the cake, carefully level out the sides. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press 1/2 cup chopped nuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a nut 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 centre 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 flavour.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD: Creamiest Lime Cream Cheese Tart

Today's Tuesdays with Dorie post is brought to you by Linda of Tender Crumb who selected the recipe Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie. My twist is a cream cheese topping instead of meringue. Check out her blog for the original recipe (the one I have included here is my adaptation).

Whenever I see the word "meringue" in a recipe I tend to skip over it and pick another recipe, which is exactly what I was tempted to do today, but then I remembered that when I joined TWD I made the commitment to make the majority of the recipes, like 'em or not, for the experience of widening my baking horizons and being open to new tastes. I'm glad I persevered because this one was a hit!

Side note: I don't like meringue for a few reasons

  • It leaves you with the question of what to do with the yolks
  • It doesn't keep well
  • I am not overly fond of the texture

  • However, I was intrigued by the lime cream part of the recipe as I'd never made lemon cream but it has been something on my "to bake" list. See that little orange gadget in the picture below? It works surprisingly well. Another Tupperware gadget that I can't live without. All you do is insert and squeeze.

    *TIP* Re: Juicing Citrus: I microwave my lemons/limes (whole, uncut fruit) for 20 seconds then roll them on the counter to soften them before juicing. You get so much more juice that way!

    The original plan was to make mini tarts and serve them with whipped cream, but at the last minute, inspiration struck and I slathered on an easy cream cheese topping, much like the one on Marie Callender's Lemon Cream Cheese Pie. The result was a delicious tart. The lime added an unexpected flavor dimension but balanced out perfectly with the sweet-tart cream cheese layer and buttery, flaky pie crust.

    My adaptation of Dorie's recipe is below. What a great recipe to end the month of August with for TWD. And, unlike meringue, this tart tastes even better the next day as the cheese and lime flavors mellow and mature.

    Creamiest Lime Cream Cheese Tart
    Adapted from Dorie Greenspan | 9" tart

    1 recipe basic single crust pastry

    1/2 cup sugar
    Grated zest of 2 limes
    2 large eggs, preferably at room temp
    1/2 cup fresh lime juice
    1/2 inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
    1 tsp cornstarch
    1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature

    1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 egg

    1. Lime Cream: Put the sugar and zest into a heatproof bowl that can be set over a double boiler or pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest between your fingertips for a few minutes, until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lime is strong. Whisk in the eggs, then whisk in the juice, ginger and cornstarch.

    2. Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels is tepid. Cook until it reaches 180 degrees F. Whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. You’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. The tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience – getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.

    3. As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove from the heat and strain into a blender/food processor (I used my mini Braun hand blender). Let it cool until it reaches 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Turn the blender to high speed and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. After all the butter is in, continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If you find the machine is getting really hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest in between beats.

    4. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. It can be frozen airtight for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

    5. Cream Cheese Layer: Beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in sugar and beat until fully incorporated. Add in egg and beat just until mixed in. Do not overbeat.

    6. Assembly: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out pastry dough and place in 9" fluted tart pan. Spread chilled lime cream over pastry then spread cream cheese layer on top. Smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 50-55 minutes until top is golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack then refrigerate to chill thoroughly before serving. Store refrigerated.

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    Blueberry Oatmeal Squares (With Variations)

    These wholesome bars are a lot like the Starbucks blueberry squares. So yummy and relatively healthy, at least compared to chocolate or ice cream (or so I tell myself, lol). The best thing about this recipe is the oatmeal base and crumble topping. It is so versatile and makes enough for a generous amount on the top and bottom because c'mon... isn't that everyone's favorite part?!

    I use this same recipe with a multitude of different fillings (Some of my favorite variations are listed below the recipe). The blueberry filling is from Canadian Living Magazine - August 2007 (Go Canada!) I have also successfully used the same recipe with strawberries.

    Blueberry Oatmeal Squares
    9x13" Pan

    2 cups quick cooking oats
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 cup butter, softened

    Filling (also try variations below):
    3 cups fresh blueberries
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/3 cup orange juice
    4 tsp cornstarch

    1. Filling: In saucepan, bring blueberries, sugar and orange juice to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch and boil, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; refrigerate until cooled, about 1 hour or up to 1 day before using.
    2. Base/Topping: In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. Cut in the butter to form a crumbly mixture. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs, and pat the rest evenly into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
    3. Bake at 350 degrees F until light golden, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely on rack as these cut better when they are fully set. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or overwrap with heavy-duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

    Filling Variations

    ***You must try this. You will not be disappointed!*** Mix together 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk and 3/4 cup peanut butter. Spread this over the oatmeal base then sprinkle with 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Cover with topping and bake.

    Mix 4 cups peeled and sliced apples with 1 tbsp lemon juice, then toss with 3 tbsp flour. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the base. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 14 oz. caramel candies, stirring frequently until smooth. Drizzle the melted caramel evenly over the apples. Cover with reserved oat mixture. Press down lightly and bake at 400F for 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden and apples are tender.

    3. CHOCOLATE: In a heavy pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Add 2/3 cup evaporated milk and 1/4 cup of the white sugar. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup nuts (I like pecans or walnuts) and cool slightly before spreading over base.

    Spread with 1/2 cups Raspberry Jam

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

    Karen of Something Sweet by Karen picked Applesauce Spice Bars for today's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. If you'd like to make these wonderfully spicy and moist bars visit her website for the recipe. The best part was definitely the caramelly topping/glaze. My son ate these for breakfast this morning. My justification for giving him such a sugar-filled breakfast was telling myself it's really not that bad since there's applesauce and apples in the bar. The texture of mine turned out more cake-like than bar-like but were yummy all the same.

    This recipe couldn't have come at a better time. My best friend is going to visit family in Croatia for 3 weeks and as a result she had to get rid of a lot of food from her house. I happily inherited a huge bag of apples, a box of phyllo pastry and a bunch of eggs (among other things). As a result, I have been on the lookout for apple recipes. Now as for the phyllo pastry... I'm totally not sure what I will use it for. I've never used phyllo before so I'm a little intimidated. If you have any easy recipes (sweet or savory, either one), I'd love to give them a shot.

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    Chicken Alfredo Pizza

    Newest purchase: a pizza stone and pizza peel

    I was itching to try it out so I decided to do an adaptation of Emeril Lagasse's Roasted Garlic White Pizza. I had heard before that pizza stones really make a difference but didn't think it would be such a huge one. The crust was amazingly crisp and didn't flop over or sag one bit when you picked up a slice. Even the day after when it was reheated it maintained its airy and crisp texture. I'm impressed. Especially since I was cheap and bought a $10 stone.

    I leave my pizza stone in the oven when baking cookies and cakes too (unless I need the extra space on the oven rack) because it helps stabilize the oven's temperature and guard against fluctuations.

    My only problem is getting the pizza from the peel onto the stone. I had horrible troubles with it sticking (that's why it's so mis-shapen!). I put 2 tbsp of cornmeal on the peel and flourered it plenty but it still stuck. I came pretty close to all the toppings sliding off into the oven but somehow managed to wiggle the whole pizza safely onto the stone. Any tips for me? Maybe I just need practice?

    Chicken Alfredo Pizza
    adapted from Emeril Lagasse

    1 cup whole milk
    2 tbsp unsalted butter
    2 tbsp all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    2-3 heads roasted garlic

    2-3 tbsp cornmeal, for sprinkling
    1 large unbaked pizza crust
    8 oz. mozzarella, grated
    2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
    2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
    1 chicken breast, grilled
    5 Sliced mushrooms, sautéed

    1. Warm milk to room temperature. In a separate saucepan, melt butter. When foam subsides, add flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Do not allow flour to color. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking to combine. Add the salt and cayenne and increase the heat to medium. Cook whisking continuously, until the sauce comes to a boil and is thickened. Remove from heat and add half of the roasted garlic cloves. Pour into a blender, cover tightly, and process until smooth. Set aside to cool.
    2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Sprinkle cornmeal on a baker's peel. Place the rolled out pizza dough on the peel.
    3. Spread the cooled sauce over pizza dough, leaving a border. Place half the mozzarella on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the chicken, mushrooms and remaining roasted garlic cloves (whole) over the cheese and top with the rest of the mozzarella. Slide onto pizza stone and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and cheese is melted and bubbly and golden brown in spots. Remove from the oven and sprinkle chopped herbs over the top.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    TWD: Brownie Buttons

    This week, Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen selected Brownie Buttons pages 106 and 107.

    Making these was easier and just as quick as using a box of brownie mix. I made the whole recipe using one fork and a Pyrex measuring cup. (I cheated and melted the chocolate in the microwave instead of in a double boiler). I added a pinch of instant coffee powder because I wanted that extra deep, rich dimension of flavor. I highly recommend usin mini muffin liners instead of greasing the tins. Why?
    1) Easier clean-up and removal from tins.
    2) They're prettier.
    3) The liners leave a delicate crinkled imprint when removed.

    They were so good that I would quadruple the recipe the next time. After all, one batch only makes 16 ;) I was intending to dip the tops in white chocolate but they all disappeared off the cooling rack before I got around to it. I had them on the countertop cooling and my 2 year old wanted to eat one so badly that he somehow managed to climb 3 feet up onto one of the bar stools to help himself! With that much determination, how could I say 'no'. lol.

    Brownie Buttons
    Makes 16

    2 teaspoons orange zest (optional. I didn't use any)
    1 teaspoon granulated sugar
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
    pinch salt
    1/4 tsp instant coffee granules (my addition, not Dorie's)
    1/4 cup unsalted butter
    2 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    1/3 cup soft light brown sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 large egg

    Glaze (Optional)
    2 oz white chocolate, chopped

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line 16 mini muffin cups. With your fingers rub together the orange zest and granulated sugar, set aside.
    2. Whisk together the flour and salt, set aside. In a heavy saucepan melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar – stirring all the time until smooth. Leave for a minute off the heat then stir in, one at a time, the vanilla, egg and zest mixture. Lastly add the flour and salt and mix until it is all incorporated.
    3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 9-10 minutes. Cool 3 mins before removing the buttons.
    4. When completely cool, melt the white chocolate for the glaze and dip each button into the chocolate to coat the top. Leave to set for 15 minutes.

    Sunday, August 9, 2009

    White Chocolate Brownie

    I am such a sucker for white chocolate. True chocolate connoisseurs may turn their noses up at this because it's not technically chocolate but in my world, it's the ONLY chocolate. With its low melting point and high fat content it's like heaven on the tongue.

    There's a chain restaurant in Vancouver called Moxie's Classic Grill that serves this dessert, which prompted me to go searching for a copycat recipe. After several attempts at tweaking various blondie recipes I have come up with this recipe which my family swears is even better than Moxie's. This brownie has melted white chocolate folded into the batter. It is a dense brownie with a crackled top. Nothing cakey about these!

    They are really best eaten as a dessert. Served on their own they're nothing special, so I don't recommend eating them this way, but when they are all dressed up they are simply magical. I ran out of chocolate sauce and didn't have time to go to the store so I whipped up some caramel sauce instead. Yummy but i still prefer hot fudge.

    White Chocolate Brownie
    Moxie's Restaurant Copycat | Makes 1 - 9x9" pan

    8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 eggs
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup white sugar
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x9" pan. Melt white chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, over barely simmering water until smooth, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
    2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla, mixing constantly. Drizzle in the melted white chocolate mixture. Combine the flour and salt; fold into the white chocolate mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
    3. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool then cut into bars.
    4. Serve heated (I microwave mine so it's really hot - hot enough to melt the ice cream). Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of hot fudge or caramel sauce.

    Caramel Sauce

    One of the best foods ever! A pure rush of sugar. What could be better? It's even better when it's home made, not to mention cheaper. David Lebovitz has some great tips to simplify caramel making and an explanation of why he does not recommend using a thermometer.
    See: Making Perfect Caramel and Ten Tips for Caramel.

    The recipe I used is a liquid (sugar & water) not a dry caramel (just sugar) from pastry chef Anna Olson. By the way, there are some really great recipes in her little book named after the TV show she hosts: Sugar

    Caramel Sauce
    Makes 1 cup

    3/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup white corn syrup
    1/2 cup water
    3/4 cup whipping cream

    1. Bring sugar, corn syrup and water up to a boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Boil without stirring, brushing the sides of the pan occasionally with a brush dipped in water.
    2. Cook for about 10 minutes, until sugar turns an amber colour - like the color of a copper penny.
    3. Remove from heat and whisk in cream, taking care as it will rise and steam. Allow to cool, then chill until ready to use.

    Saturday, August 8, 2009

    Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Sugar Spirals

    This cake was baked for an old high school friend's birthday. I have not kept in touch with anybody from high school but somehow we all ended up getting together for this friend's birthday. It was a total catch-up-fest and a little awkward at first. "So... how have the last 7 years of your life been?"... It's almost like talking to strangers! It was fun though and hope not to let another 7 years go by before we meet again.

    There were only 5 girls at the gettogether but the whole cake disappeared. Whatever wasn't finished was quickly divided up upon request so they could take it home. I love the feeling of a baking success and bringing home an empty plate. Here is the link to Anna Olson's Ultimate Chocolate Cake recipe which I frosted using my own recipe submission for Copycat Duncan Hines Frosting to

    The most fun part of the decorating was making the swirly caramelized sugar spirals for decorating.

    Caramelized Sugar Shapes

    1. Heat 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp water and 1 tsp light corn syrup in heavy pot over medium heat. Do not stir, just swirl pot around occasionally.
    2. Bring temperature up to 295-310 degrees F (hard ball stage). Watch the thermometer closely as this can burn quickly if unattended. Mixture should be amber colored.
    3. Immediately drizzle into desired shapes onto greased baking sheet. [I used a pointy grapefruit spoon to drizzle with). Let stand until set. Carefully remove from baking sheet. Can be stored airtight for a few weeks.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

    I was going through my really old Photobucket account and came across this picture. I decorated these bananas in Gwen Stefani's Harajuku style as part of a Christmas gift for my sister (who is Gwen-obsessed). Remember that song, "This shit is Bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S" from a few years ago?

    Well, I drew all the little Harajuku symbols on these bananas and put them in a gift bag alongside the "real" gift which was a make-up case with little bananas on it. She thought they were adorable and those bananas sat on her desk until they started to go black and I had to steal them from her to make banana bread. If you into fashion, check out my sister's blog: China Doll. I wish I were even half as artistic and talented as she is. When it comes to style, make-up/hair, fashion, etc. she just has a nose for what's hot and a knack for putting together amazing outfits. She's the first person I go to when I'm not sure what to wear. It also helps that I have easy access to her closet so I can "borrow" outfits.

    twd banana bundt

    Okay, enough chatter. On to today's real entry. This week's Dorie-recipe was chosen by Mary of The Food Librarian. I am so impressed by this recipe. I, like most home bakers, have a go-to banana bread recipe. I didn't think any recipe could take the place of this 'gold standard' recipe in my books, but I must say, I was wowed by this Classic Banana Bundt Cake. It uses butter and sour cream unlike my original recipe which uses oil. My whole family was wowed by the moist texture, intense banana flavor and crisp yet chewy crust all around. I even caught my father sneaking a second piece and slicing off a big piece the next morning for breakfast. He is the pickiest person when it comes to baked goods, so it's gotta be damn good for him to want seconds.

    *TIP* re: Bananas
    Bake the bananas (skin and all) at 300 degrees F or lower for about 10-20 minutes or until skins blacken. This is to soften them, ripen them and bring out even more sweetness and to make them super-easy to slip out of their skins and mash. Sometimes they get so soft and wonderful that I can just cut the top off and squeeze out the banana.


    twd banana bundt

    I highly recommend that you
    1) Buy Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours
    2) Join us at the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group. We rock!

    Classic Banana Bundt Cake
    Makes one 10" Bundt | Baking: From My Home to Yours
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 cups sugar
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
    1 3/4 cups (approx. 4 large) very ripe bananas, mashed
    1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

    Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.

    Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

    Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. Mix in half the dry ingredients, all the sour cream and then the rest of the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to debubble the batter and smooth the top.

    Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after about 30 minutes - if it is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature.

    Sunday, August 2, 2009

    No-Bake Cheesecake Pie

    The perfect summer recipe is one that doesn't require an oven. Well... sorta. The crust needs to be baked. The simplicity of this No-Bake Cheesecake Pie and the infinite ways you can "switch it up" (in the words of Anna Olson, one of my faves on

    For example you could:
    -Use lemon extract instead of vanilla
    -Use gingersnaps instead of graham crackers in the crust
    -Use crushed Oreos in the crust and add some melted semi-sweet chocolate to the filling for a chocolate cheesecake
    -Tropical inspired: add coconut to the crust and spread crushed, well-drained pineapple under the cream cheese layer
    -Use 1.5 cups of Cool Whip instead of whipped cream to save time

    Basic No-Bake Cheesecake Pie

    1 fully baked pie crust (graham or pastry, your choice)
    1 (8 oz.) stick cream cheese
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 cup whipping cream
    strawberries or other fruit

    Using a hand mixer, whip the whipping cream. Set aside in refrigerator. In a separate bowl beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and mix. When well blended, fold in whipped cream using a rubber spatula. Arrange strawberry slices or other fruit on the prepared and cooled crust then pour cream cheese mixture over berries. Smooth the tip and refrigerate at least 2 hours to set.