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Cannelloni

Posted by jenskitchen on January 15, 2014

Time Life Foods of the World Series

My parents had a set of Time Life Food of the World books on the bookcase in the living room when I was growing up. These gorgeous books featured the food of different regions and countries with a hard cover book that contained information and beautiful photos as well as a companion spiral-bound recipe book. I would read those books and look at the pictures and the recipes and dream about food. Sometimes I would dream about travelling to the places featured in the books… other times I would dream about hosting fabulous dinner parties using these regions as inspiration. These were just dreams when I was younger… first, being about 12, I wasn’t able to travel much further than the back yard… second, I didn’t cook. As much as those books inspired me, I still didn’t know my way around the kitchen. My mother was a good cook. Dinner was on the table every night. It was good (except for the occasional overcooked veggies). But, in my eyes… my mom disappeared into the kitchen for a while, and then, as if by magic… food appeared. It never occurred to me to go in to the kitchen and watch… or even offer to help.

Time Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Italy

When I moved out of my parents house, I quickly realized that food stopped magically appearing out of the kitchen. The food that I was preparing in my first little kitchen was far from magical. Dinner consisted mostly of Ramen Noodles, Tuna Fish, and Spaghetti (out of boxes and cans). It was pretty bad… but it kept me alive. (Kind of… thinking back… my meals were pretty gluten heavy and very processed. I was making myself sick with my food – and not just because I wasn’t a very good cook.)

It wasn’t until I had a child of my own that I decided I really wanted to learn to make home-cooked meals. The kind I grew up with. While I was visiting my parents house, those books on the shelf caught my eye again. I grabbed the Cooking of Italy spiral recipe book off the shelf and decided then and there that I was making a home-cooked meal featuring a recipe from that book.

Never mind that I could barely boil water. I was going to choose a recipe and teach myself to cook. And, I wasn’t going to start small… No, no, no… I chose the recipe for Cannelloni. The description: Pasta Tubes Filled with Meat and Baked in Tomato and Cream Sauce made my mouth water. I was that 12 year old girl again dreaming of trips to Italy or fabulous dinners at my own table… only now I was 25.

First of all… This recipe is really four recipes. First, there is the pasta dough that is made by hand. Second, the tomato sauce made from real tomatoes instead of opening a jar or can. Third, the Besciamella, and finally, the filling. Boy, when I do something… I really do it. For someone whose whole cooking experience consisted of opening cans and boxes and heating the food in a pan or pot, I was being really ambitious. Luckily… I didn’t know any better and I set out to make the Cannelloni.

It wasn’t the cheapest meal I had ever made. For one thing, I don’t think I had any of the actual ingredients to make this already in my kitchen. But I was committed to this plan of mine. I bought all the ingredients and read and re-read the directions. I made each of the four recipes (one at a time – truthfully, I had no idea that you could be working on more than one part at a time). The whole recipe took me twelve hours to complete. It was a good thing I started in the late morning… and I never gave up. I just kept going. Pasta – check. Tomato sauce – check. Filling – check. Besciamella – check. I was ready to put my Cannelloni together. Twelve hours later, my poor, neglected oven finally got some use.  Twenty minutes after that, I was ready to try my homemade creation.

Oh my… The Cannelloni was like heaven on a plate. I think I might have cried a little (though that could be because I was exhausted by that point). The dish tasted better than anything I had eaten in a decade… and considering that everything I had eaten in that decade had come out of a box, it really shouldn’t have surprise me… yet, it did.

That Cannelloni was my first attempt at cooking. And, wow! I was inspired. I taught myself a few other dishes that year… and for several years I made the Cannelloni once a year (even though it no longer took me 12 hours to cook – it was still a dish that took several hours).

Fast forward another decade. When I discovered that I would feel better if I kicked gluten out of my body and my kitchen, I said goodbye to pasta and bread. Goodbye doughnuts and cakes and pies. And, for a long time, I was okay with this. My body was becoming healthy. I was finding a healthy weight (unlike a typical Celiac, when I eat gluten, I gain weight… a lot of weight… with a combination of gluten-free and low-carb dieting choices I was able to lose weight – 1/2 of my starting body weight to be exact.) And, then… I kept shrinking. People started to ask me if I was eating enough. There were whispers of anorexia or bulimia. While the early phases of Atkins had helped me slowly but consistently lose 100 pounds, I suddenly found myself losing more and more weight. I was adding in more and more carbohydrates… trying to find that perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats that would keep me at a healthy weight. There just weren’t enough veggies in the world to get the carbohydrate levels right. I started looking at grains. I had already gone gluten-free at that point, so wheat, rye, and barley were out. I had no clue what to do with some of those other grains… So, I started using some of the prepared gluten-free dishes. Before long, I was eating out of cans and boxes again… doing not much more than heating food.

Wait. Really? I knew better than this. I knew food could taste good.

Yes. Yes, it can. And, gluten-free does not mean taste-free. It does not mean eating out of cans and boxes that have the magic “gluten-free” labeling. It does mean re-learning how to make homemade food. I had already done it once… and I was determined to do it again.

Fast forward another 8 years…

Gluten-Free Cannelloni

I had tried to make this once using gluten-free products such as boxed pasta, jarred tomato sauce, etc… It was okay. But, it wasn’t the amazing food experience that I had before when I made this from fresh ingredients in my pre-Gluten-Free days. I figured I could make the tomato sauce, filling, and Besciamella relatively easily. It was the pasta.

Last week, my son asked me if I would make him Cannelloni. I answered Yes. Yes, I will. The pasta was the only thing left to challenge me. I scoured blogs reading through how others had figured taken on the Gluten-Free Fresh Pasta. And, then… I started throwing ingredients in a bowl… a kind of a compilation of what others had learned and what made sense to me, based on the base recipe for Pasta dough in the Time Life book. That night, we had Cannelloni.

Cannelloni: Pasta Tubes filled with Meat and Baked in Tomato and Cream Sauce

And, it only took me about four hours!

Would you like to make this too? Here are the four recipes you need to make Cannelloni and the instructions for putting it together.

Gluten-Free Pasta Dough – I used this recipe on the Better Batter website and I highly recommend it. (I am currently searching for an egg-free version to accomodate our new allergy list!)

After preparing the pasta dough, cut it into rectangles that are about 2 x 3 inches. Boil the pasta in salted water gently for about 5 minutes. The pasta should be tender, but not too soft. You’ll want to prepare the pasta and then set aside, covered to keep moist until the remaining components are ready. It is easier to boil the pasta before hand so it has time to cool before filling and rolling.

Meat Filling – This recipe is straight from Time Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Italy.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3/4 lb spinach – cooked, drained, squeezed and finely chopped (you can use a 10-oz package of frozen spinach – defrost, dry, and chop).
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 pound beef round steak, ground twice
  • 2 chicken livers
  • 5 T freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

My preparation directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onions and garlic. Once the onions and garlic are soft, stir in the spinach until the spinach starts to dry and stick to the pan. Put the onions, garlic, and spinach in a mixing bowl.

Melt 1 T butter in the skillet and add the ground beef. Once the beef no longer shows any pink, add it to the spinach mixture.

Melt another 1T butter in the skillet and add the chicken livers. These are done when they are firm and light brown. They will still have some pink on the inside when you chop them. Remove from the skillet and let cool slightly before chopping and adding to the spinach and beef.

To the spinach and meat mixture, add Parmesan, cream, eggs, and oregano. Mix everything together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the Cannelloni.

NOTE: The eggs in this recipe are acting as a binder. To make this egg-free, I might try a commercial egg replacement product, but another option might be using more of the Parmesan or adding Tomato Paste or even a bit of Arrowroot Powder in place of the eggs.

Besciamella – This is a delicious sauce that made me finally understand what “salt to taste” means! This recipe is from Time Life Foods of the World: Cooking of Italy. My only change to the recipe was to substitute Better Batter flour for typical flour.

  • 6 T butter
  • 6 T Better Batter flour
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt – or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper

My preparation directions:

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Pour in the cream and milk all at once and whisk until the sauce comes to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and continue to stir for a few minutes longer. The sauce is ready when it leaves a heavy coat on the wires of the whisk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato Sauce – I do love this tomato sauce. It is so simple to make and is amazing in this Cannelloni. Jarred tomato sauce just doesn’t lend the same brightness. This recipe is also from the Time Life Series.

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 Cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 Cups Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 6 T tomato paste
  • 2 T fresh basil (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

My preparation directions:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and then add the onions and cook until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and then reduce the heat to allow sauce to simmer for 40 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally.

The original instructions include pressing the sauce through a sieve or food mill. I chose instead to use my hand blender to make sure any large chunks of tomato or onion were thoroughly incorporated. Taste for seasoning and then set aside until ready to assemble the cannelloni.

To Assemble the Cannelloni – Easy enough once all the components are ready! Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish. Place a spoonful of meat filling in each rectangle of pasta and roll them up into tubes. Lay each tube seam side down in a single layer in the baking dish.

Pour the besciamella over the pasta tubes and then spoon the rest of the tomato sauce over that. Top with parmesan cheese and dot with butter if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling. If desired, broil for a minute to brown the top. Serve cannelloni directly from baking dish and Enjoy!

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Cherries!!! Cherry Almond Muffins for Breakfast and Glazed Cherry Pork Chops for Dinner

Posted by jenskitchen on August 5, 2012

I was excited to find fresh cherries in my Bountiful Basket this week! First, because my mom had sent me a recipe for Cherry Almond Muffins. Second, because cherries are anti-inflammatory and there are some studies that suggest that eating cherries can help relieve arthritis symptoms.

I haven’t talked about it yet… But, one of the reasons I haven’t been updating this blog much is due to some health issues. In February of this year things went downhill fast. I hadn’t been feeling great for some time before that. But… I wrote it off as stress. Too much work. Too little sleep. A lot of personal stuff going on… You know. Life. But, in February, my body started screaming at me that this was something more than just a bit of stress. All of the joints on the left side of my body started aching. The fingers on my left hand were twisted painfully and refused to relax. My hip and knee (left leg only) would occasionally give out and refuse to support me. I had a couple of falls and found it difficult to walk. Sometimes I found it difficult to even get out of bed. Yeah. My body was screaming for attention.

So far, I’ve seen several primary care docs, 2 neurologists, a rheumatologist, a GI doc, an OB/Gyn, a podiatrist, and an eye doctor. I’ve been diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis in my spine and a case of iritis. I’ve been through a bunch of tests… ruling out several possible issues… but mostly just leaving more questions than answers.

So, instead of relying on help from doctors, I’m focusing on nutrition and seeing a Rolfer. I’ve had more improvement from this course of action than in four months of seeking help from doctors.

Cherries for Dinner: Cherry Glazed Pork Chops

I started looking around the internet searching for inspiration to use cherries in a savory application. I was extremely excited to find this recipe for Cherry Glazed Pork Chops. First of all, it was already naturally gluten-free. Second, it just looked really good. I only made some minor changes based on just what I had on hand. I had some beautiful bone-in pork loin chops fr0m the Meat Shop so I used those instead of boneless. I used marsala instead of port. I used yellow onions instead of shallots. I used red wine vinegar rather than balsamic. And… it was very, very good. I would like to try the recipe as written in the future, though… just to compare. And because cherries and pork are insanely good.

Since I already had the cherry pitter out… I went ahead and pitted extra cherries so I could make my mom’s Cherry Almond Muffins.

Cherry Almond Muffins

Use your handy-dandy cherry pitter to pit about a cup or so of cherries (I used about 2 cups of cherries)

Whisk together the dry ingredients:

  • 385 grams Better Batter flour – remove about 1/3 C and add to the cherries. Toss to coat the cherries. Set the cherries aside.
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Cream together in a stand mixer:

  • 8 T butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups sugar (or equivalent amount of your preferred sweetener)

Add one at a time, incorporating fully after each addition:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups sour cream

Then, add in the dry ingredients. I did this in about 3 additions, just to keep flour from flying all over my kitchen.

Gently fold in the cherries that have been tossed in 1/3 C flour.

Line a muffin pan with muffin cups and fill about 2/3 C full with batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

This made 24 small muffins for me. (My mom said it would make 12. Her muffin pan is probably bigger than mine : )

You can cool these on a wire rack and then enjoy warm – fresh out of the oven… or wrap and refrigerate or freeze. Gently warm the muffins before serving.

Enjoy!

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Cooking Through The Decades: Cook Like It’s 1917

Posted by jenskitchen on July 8, 2012

Jump ahead twelve years from the last Cooking Through the Decades project to 1917. I really don’t know much about 1917 except that it was the year the United States entered World War I.

Apparently Chicken a la King had been around for some time in the year 1917. The great people at America’s Test Kitchen spruced up the recipe for today’s cooks. And, because it’s what I do, I’ll make their recipe gluten-free.

Since they suggest serving this creamy chicken concoction over toasted supermarket Italian bread, my first step in making this dish gluten-free was to bake up a loaf of bread. You could also serve this over mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles. For a low-carb version, I would make up some cauli-rice or faux-tatoes… perhaps even serve with toasted almond bread. The recipe itself only contains 3 Tablespoons of flour, so this makes it pretty easy to make into a gluten-free or low-carb dish. In order to stick to the recipe as closely as possible, I decided to save de-carbing the dish for another time.

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I had to watch over this bread closely as it cooled… Both of my kids were eyeing it like they hadn’t eaten in weeks! It didn’t help that the whole house smelled like fresh-baked bread.

Need a gluten-free bread recipe? Try this one or this one.

Back to Chicken a la King – As a first step, the chicken is marinated in heavy cream, lemon juice, and salt for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Prepping the veggies is next. Dice an onion, thinly slice mushrooms and red bell peppers. Bring oil to temperature in a large skillet and then cook the onion until golden. Add the red bell and mushrooms, some salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies have softened.

Once the veggies have softened, the recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons of flour. To make this gluten-free, I subbed the Better Batter flour for AP Flour. (To de-carb this recipe, almond flour might work here… I’ve had good results using almond flour as a thickener.)

Then, Madeira (or in my case Marsala) wine goes in the pan, followed by chicken stock and heavy cream. The sauce is allowed to thicken before adding the marinated chicken (along with its cream marinade). Once the chicken is cooked through, add some lemon juice and parsley and serve with toast.

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Both kids liked this a lot. (And, so did I.) So, another successful Cooking Through The Decades recipe is completed. I wonder what the 1920’s will bring!

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Cooking Through The Decades: Cook Like It’s 1905

Posted by jenskitchen on July 1, 2012

America’s Test Kitchen has a fun weekly project going on right now. Each week they plan to feature a recipe from the past for us to make. By sending in a picture, you have the opportunity to win a book and apron. I’m in…

The first recipe is from 1905 and it’s called Cold Oven Pound Cake. The recipe appeared in Cook’s Country February/March 2008.

My first step was to convert their recipe to Gluten-Free. It was easy enough as the main ingredient to worry about was flour. Thanks to Better Batter, that doesn’t even phase me anymore. I use 120 grams of the Better Batter flour for every cup called for in a regular recipe (unless of course the recipe writers are nice enough to give a weight measure in the first place). So far so good.

Here’s an overview of what I did (including my substitutions):

The recipe calls for a 16-Cup Tube Pan. Since it was 10:00 on a Sunday night and I didn’t already own a Tube-Pan, I decided to use my Bundt Pan. If I like the recipe enough maybe I’ll go buy a Tube Pan… but then again, if I like the recipe enough, maybe I’ll just keep making it the way I did this time. It’s too soon to tell. The pan is in the oven right now.

Whisk together the 340 grams of Better Batter flour (or flour of your choice), 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt. Set aside.

Measure 1 Cup Whole Milk in a Liquid Measure Cup and add 2 tsp vanilla (make sure gluten-free!) Set aside.

In my stand mixer, I combined 20 T of softened unsalted butter with 2 1/2 Cups of sugar and turned the mixer to medium until I had a nice fluffy mixture. Then I added 6 eggs, one at a time, letting them work their way into the mixture before adding the next one. Sadly… on the fourth egg, I accidentally dropped part of the egg shell. Don’t worry… I think I got most of the eggshell out of the batter. And, well… you don’t have to eat it, do you? Yes. I could have started over with 20 more Tablespoons of softened butter and another 2 1/2 Cups of Sugar, but I didn’t. It was already late, and I didn’t want to wait for the butter to soften again.

After digging out the partial egg shell, I reduced the mixer speed to low and added the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture (beginning and ending with the flour).

Then I prepared my Bundt Pan by greasing with shortening and giving a light dusting of about a Tablespoon of Better Batter. I poured the mixture into the prepared pan and placed it in the oven.

This is the neat trick about this recipe. You don’t pre-heat the oven. You put the cake in the oven and THEN turn the oven to 325 degrees. The directions state to bake until golden brown… about 65 to 80 minutes!

Once I got the cake in the oven, I sat down to write out this post. That way, I would be ready to take a picture, add it, try the cake, and post!

Hang on… I need to go check my cake…

Cold Oven Pound Cake out of the oven

The rest of the directions tell me that I need to let this cake rest in the pan for 15 minutes and then cool for 2 hours. Honestly. I’m going to be asleep in 2 hours. So, I will finish up this post in the morning and let you know how it turned out. At the moment, the cake appears to have a beautiful crust and the toothpick came out clean when inserted… More to come in the morning!

Update: July 2, 2012

Well, it’s morning. I can now tell you about the Cold Oven Pound Cake. This is a very moist, buttery cake. The best part to me is the crisp exterior promised in the recipe.

Yum!

I’m really looking forward to finding out this week’s Cooking Through The Decades recipe!

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Sweet Potato Soufle

Posted by jenskitchen on November 22, 2010

My mom had 2 different sweet potato recipes & would alternate which dish we had each Thanksgiving. Neither of them had the classic marshmallow topping… in fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever had the classic version. Both were good… but honestly, sweet potatoes were not my favorite Thanksgiving side.

Several years ago, my mom made a third sweet potato dish. I fell in love & it has been on my Thanksgiving table ever since. Finally, I had a sweet potato dish that I could look forward to each year… and it still didn’t have the marshmallows. I really am not a fan of marshmallows since I’ve given up processed food and refined sugars. Last year, I stopped using canned food as much as possible, so here’s my moms recipe with my gluten-free, can-free twist…

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, cooked & mashed (I like to roast them, sometimes I steam them in a bit of cream & butter)
1 C sweetener (my preference is agave nectar… The original recipe calls for sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 stick butter
1/2 C milk
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients well & pour into a buttered baking dish. Mix together the following & crumble over the top of the souffle:
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C Better Batter flour
1/3 C melted butter
1 C pecans

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, uncovered.

Enjoy!

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Daring Bakers: Doughnuts

Posted by jenskitchen on October 28, 2010

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The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

As much as the provided recipes certainly had me interested, I have to admit now that I didn’t use any of them. You can check out the full challenge information here.

Unfortunately, due to a series of strange and somewhat irritating (at times) events, I haven’t been able to post anything here lately. Yes, I know that’s an understatement, but I’ll explain more later. This post… well, it’s about doughnuts.

Lately I’ve been on a convert all my favorite family recipes to gluten-free kick. And, about a week before I finally decided I was ready to call myself a Daring Baker again, I decided that my next challenge from my Mom’s recipe box would be her doughnuts. She made these doughnuts every Halloween and as soon as my calendar said it was October, I started thinking about those little puffs of deliciousness that my Mom made once a year. So, I see it as kind of a sign that the Daring Baker’s challenge for this month was Doughnuts. Rather than use one of the given recipes, I combined the two challenges and converted my Mom’s recipe to Gluten-Free. And, oh my… I am so glad I did.

Gluten-Free Halloween Doughnuts

  • 1 beaten egg (I used farm fresh)
  • 1/2 Cups Applesauce (I used homemade)
  • 1/2 Cups Milk (I used Strauss Creamery Whole Milk)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Melted Butter (Again, I used Strauss Creamery – unsalted)

Beat the first 4 ingredients together until well mixed. My applesauce was a little chunky (thanks to a food processor that suddenly decided it didn’t want to work anymore… turns out this was a good thing in the doughnuts.)

To the above, add:

  • 2 Cups Flour (I used Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour – a little less than 2 Cups, though).
  • 1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt (fine)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix well and place in the fridge until chilled and ready to fry. The dough will be a bit wet – not quite able to make formed doughnuts… think drop biscuits, but drop doughnuts 🙂

Heat the oil to 360 degrees.

Drop by Tablespoons into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove from oil carefully (use a slotted spoon).

The original recipe calls for rolling these in granulated sugar. I actually didn’t have any sugar in my house (big surprise), but I did have a bit of left over powdered sugar from when I made my son’s birthday cake in July, so… I rolled in a bit of powdered sugar.

These doughnuts were pretty darn awesome. The flavor I remember from my childhood gone gluten-free.

I have more pictures to share of the doughnuts and doughnut making process which I’ll share as soon as I can figure out how to get them from my phone to this post 🙂

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Daring Bakers – Dobos Torta

Posted by jenskitchen on August 27, 2009

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. 

When I was in college, I was often told to slow down and read directions better. I often missed test questions because I didn’t read the questions or directions completely. I suspect I had/have a bit of ADD – that would certainly explain a lot, however, I was completely sure that it was more important to know how to do something than to actually do it. I can almost hear my math teacher laughing as I realize the importance of reading directions carefully. What does reading math tests have to do with the Daring Baker’s? Well, for one thing, reading directions on cake is kind of like reading directions on a math test. You won’t quite get the right answer (or cake) if you miss part of the directions.

That being said, my cake was good, and I got parts of it right, so all in all, I think it was a success. Below is the recipe the Daring Bakers used:

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.

Lorraine and I would like you to make this famous cake which we chose in the spirit of being Daring and Challenging us. Variations are discussed at the end of this post and as always, if you have to make substitutions for dietary or financial reasons, that is fine.

Equipment

  • 2 baking sheets
  • 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
  • mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
  • a sieve
  • a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
  • a small saucepan
  • a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
  • metal offset spatula
  • sharp knife
  • a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
  • piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

  • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
  • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
  • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
  • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake 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 (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster 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 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:
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. (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 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. 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:
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. 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.

Lorraine’s note: If you’re in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. 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!

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-coloured 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 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 flavor

So, here’s my cake:

DSCN0984

Now, because I didn’t completely read all the directions quite as well as I could have… my caramel cookies completely broke apart. So, I ended up whirling them in a food processor and used them as a decoration for the cake… It all tasted good, so I guess it worked out. But, if you want to see what the Dobos Torta was really supposed to look like, you may want to check out the original recipe.

The kids liked this and the cake itself looked kind of pretty. Here’s a picture of a slice:

DSCN0985

Posted in Better Batter substitution recipes, Daring Baker's | 4 Comments »

Daring Bakers – Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding

Posted by jenskitchen on June 27, 2009

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.

Apparently, there’s some debate over whether this dessert is a tart or a pudding. And who am I to put an end to the controversy. I’m just here to show off what I’ve learned this month!

Okay… I had never heard of a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding – but that certainly wasn’t going to stop me! I did sign up to be daring in the kitchen after all. And if you haven’t signed up yet, well… why not? Each month I definitely learn new skills in the kitchen. So if you haven’t signed up yet and would like to head on over to The Daring Kitchen.

Actually, I’ve never made a tart. The Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding has three elements and I’ve never even made one of the three elements before. The three elements are a pastry crust, a jam or curd, and a frangipane. This was going to be a learning experience. (I had to look up what frangipane is…)

You can read the original challenge here. As for what I did, read on…

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding
Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
1 Cup Cherry Jam & 1 Cup Apricot Jam
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
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 egg yolks 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) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is light yellow in color and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. 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, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow color.

Apricot Jam
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: knife

20 or so Apricots
stevia

Peel the apricots and remove the pits. Cut apricots into thin slices and put them in a saute pan. Sweeten to taste with preferred sweetener. I used Stevia. Stirring gently, allow the apricots to cook down into a sauce. Let the apricot “jam” cool to room temperature before using.

Cherry Jam
Prep time: forever
Equipment needed: cherry pitter, knife, patience

I used this recipe for Cherry Jam. It was really, really, good! In fact, even with as long as it took to pit cherries (I think it took longer because the two year old sous chef kept trying to eat the cherries as I pit them – he was doing quality control, I assume…)  I would still make this recipe again! I’ll just wait until nap time to do it : )

Assembling the tart
The fun thing about gluten-free dough is that you really don’t have to let your dough rest – there’s no gluten to get overworked. In some ways, I’m really starting to appreciate this challenge of making things gluten-free. And there are even times when I think the gluten-free version is better. This tart crust was good. Really good. Makes me want to make another tart. Once I rolled out the tart crust and got it in the tart pan, I placed it in the freezer while I got everything else together.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

After I had the frangipane & jams done, I took my tart crust out of the freezer. First I spread the cherry jam over the bottom of the crust. Then I decided it wasn’t enough jam (maybe the Sous Chef had eaten a few too many cherries) so I used the Apricot Jam as well. It looked like this:

DSCN0940

The frangipane is spread on top of the fruit filling. The assembled tart looks like this:

DSCN0942

This gets baked for 30 minutes according to the recipe directions. Which is actually about 5 minutes longer than my tart needed, so the frangipane got a little darker than I would have liked.

DSCN0944

All in all, this was a great experience. I learned to make a tart crust (gluten-free even), I made jams for the first time ever, and I learned what frangipane was – and made it : )

I have to admit that my first taste of the tart didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I think I would have liked more jam layer, though apparently that’s not traditional. Still, the next time I make this, my Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding will have a thicker jam layer.

All in all I enjoyed the Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding. I would have even had a second slice… except for the fact that the older sous chef ate what was left. Hmm… I guess I’ll have to make another one.

DSCN0947

I had actually hoped to get a better picture of a slice of the Tart…er…Pudding. But, before I had the chance, the Tart…er…Pudding was gone.

Posted in Better Batter substitution recipes, Daring Baker's | 18 Comments »