Feb 28, 2010

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Tiramisu this month.

MY GOD, what a bloody headache.

For February it was decided that the Daring Bakers would make a tiramisu completely from scratch. and when I say completely, I mean COMPLETELY. And baby it was a LOOOOOOOOOOOOG process too, make no mistake about that.Well, ok. It wasn't really that long. The length of the instructions scared me. Truth is, it's really quite a straight forward recipe, you just need to do a little advance planning and it comes together fine. So with a deep breath, I hankered down and read the recipe over several times.

Ok, maybe not several.
15 times
10 times
5 tim
but it was a very thorough reading!!

Ok, maybe not.

I started with the cheese first. I read that the recipe required me to use a cheesecloth (and NO, ok? I DID NOT see that alternative cotton handkerchief option) So, wondering where on earth I would find some muslin cloth (a.k.a cheesecloth) I approached my darling mother.
Me: Ma, I need cheesecloth for this month's challenge.
Ma: Cheesecloth?
Me: Cheesecloth.
Ma: But.....why?
Me: My sadistic loving hosts want me to make my own marscapone cheese.
Me: Make my own cheese.
Ma: Can't we cheat and buy you a tub from Jaya33?
Me: What a splendid idea NO MA. Why don't we go now so we can pick up a pirated version of Avatar too? BAKER'S HONOUR!! I HAVE to do each part of the challenge FROM SCRATCH!!
Ma: *sigh* ok........ *light bulb flashes above head* Why don't you use one of your father's vaeshttis*?

And so it came to be that I would be making cheese with garment which dad usually reserves for going to temple. Gave it a good wash and ripped  cut it into managable pieces.

Of course dad protested. It's just that, we don't listen to him much. ;-) (LOVE YOU DADA!!)
So far so good, it was getting quite exciting now too.
Of course, things are never really straight forward with me, now are they?
In my haste to make the cheese, I ignored the first golden rule of Bakingdom. You know, the one printed in bold and written in CAPITALS that's right 
on top, triple underlined and surrounded by flashing neon coloured arrows?


Oh woe is me. Ignorant fool that I am, I lined a BOWL (instead of a sieve) with ONE layer of cheesecloth ( instead of 3). Good thing mum stopped me in time. Otherwise I would've had a mouldy, watery bit of creamy goo. Thankfully, the rest of the cheese making saga went well, And I had a lovely lump of wonderfully smooth marscapone.

After making the cheese I proceeded to promptly fall in love.
With the savoiardi biscuits.
These turned out NOTHING like my first attempt at making them. A little dense and a little moist but fluffy and spongy at the same time too. It had a lovely crunch on the outside, due to the sugar sprinkeled on before baking. They weren't even THAT eggy! I've always been a little afraid anything that smells really eggy since I encountered a raw egg during my early baking days...... but that's a story for another post.

The pastry cream and zabaliogne came together pretty easily. Ok, maybe not so much the pastry cream. I had to make a second batch cause the first came out lumpy ( high heat? BIG NONO). Anyways, I had all my components and proceeded to assemble them the next day. That went off without a glitch too!!

Then again.....not quite.

Inovative sentient being that I was, I thought it'd be cool to  mold the tiramisu in a chocolate dome which I would then cover with gold dust?

Pretty fancy, no? Yeap.
A pretty big pain-in-the-arse, yes? YOOOOOUUUUU BETCHA.

Nothing really went wrong with the tiramisu assembly, just the chocolate shell. I covered my metal bowl with cling wrap thinking it would make geting the tiramisu out easier.
The clingwrap helped alright. But the chocolate got stuck in the folds of the plastic making it a PAIN to unmold. And it didn't come off completely too. Some plastic was still stuck in the chocolate shell . Everytime I tried to remove it, the shell started to crack so I had to leave it alone.I still covered it up with the gold and some cocoa powder.... but the plastic threat still lurked at the back of my mind. More so since dad decided to give some away to a friend of his which had 2 young boys in the family. I warned him, and the report that came back the next day only consisted of rave reviews so I suppose He wasn't given the plastic piece. Thank goodness.

All in all, this really was a huge challenge. I still like my tiramisu recipe better than this one ( I thought it was a wee bit too sweet for my liking), but I'm glad I completed it. I never though  would ever MAKE my own marscapone!! And I think i'll keep doing so, it's alot easier on the wallet and I know that it's peservative free. The savoiardi recipe has also become a new friend. I just made another batch and am wondering what to do with them.

And thus, another DB challenge was completed. If you want to try the recipe out for yourself, you can follow this link. =>  http://thedaringkitchen.com/recipe/tiramisu

Happy Baking!!

oh, and p.s- I'VE STARTED CLASSES AT MIB!! ;-D

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veshti#Styles_and_varieties

Happy Belated Valentines

Feb 18, 2010

 I don't think anyone could've said it better than a darling friend of mine :
Happy Valentine's Day Sayangs.
Whether you've got a special someone or you're singeling it up (that's the way),
I love you.
Believe in Vday or not, have a great day.

Quite frankly, I'm not quite sure what I feel about Valentines Day. 
And I don't quite care either.
All I know is that,
my dad still tries to sneak in roses every year,
my mum ALWAYS knows that the roses are coming,
and she acts surprised anyways.
We'll ALWAYS put those roses in either the blue porcelain or clear crystal glass,
and they'll ALWAYS be put on the same table,
after which,
they'll ALWAYS become manure for my dad's garden.

romantic, isn't it?

Anyways, in the spirit of the season I decided to make a cheesecake. The recipe comes from one of the previous Daring Bakers's challenges Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake.

I made a shortbread base, covered it with mandarin oranges and covered it with a 1/3 recipe of the cheese filling. The cake was baked in my ADORABLE 6-inch loose bottom tin and it turned out WONDERFULLY. The top is decorated with a bit of leftover strawberry coulis (a.k.a. fancy name for SAUCE) I had in the fridge.

Base :
~25 g cornflour ~75g all purpose flour ~2 tbsp ground almonds
~1 tbsp icing sugar ~50 g butter

Filling :
~ 3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
~1 cup / 210 g sugar ~3 large eggs ~1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
~1 tbsp. lemon juice ~1 tbsp. vanilla extract ~1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake


~segments of 1 mandarin orange, rind and seeds cut away

Strawberry Coulis :
~300g strawberries ~2 tbsp castor sugar ~Juice of 1/2 a lemon ~4 tbsp water

*Again, I only used 1/3 of the recipe for the filling, but my tin was 6 inches in diameter, so it was just right.

Mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the softened butter. Use hands to squish together into a crumbly ball of dough. Flaten into base of cake tin. Bake in 180'C oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Take out and set aside to COOL COMPLETELY.

Beat cream cheese and sugar together till smooth. Stir eggs in one at a time, being carefull not to incorperate too much air by overbeating. Fold in cream, lemon juice, extract, and if desired liquor.

*If you're going to use this, it'd be a good ida to prepare it first. And really, it takes minimal effort on your part.

Clean and quarter the strawberries. Place all ingredients into a saucepan and stir to combine. Turn on the heat and let simmer, stirring often. When done, all the strawberries would have broken down. Let cool then push coulis through a sieve to remove seeds.

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Ok, so you have your base in the tin,but your cheesecake filling is still IN IT'S BOWL. Before you want to pour it into the tin, you want to cover the out side of the tin with tin foil to make it waterproof. Tear a piece of tinfoil that's TWICE the size of your tin. Fold it in half and use it to wrap the outside of your cheesecake tin. Make sure it's nice and secure with no holes showing through.
(What's all the fuss about making it water-tight? Well, we're going to be baking this in a water bath, but we'll get to that later.)

Tin is covered with tinfoil?
Tin is waterproof?
No holes peeping through?

Ok, NOW you pour in the filling.You can use the coulis to decorate the cheesecake like I've done by putting blobs of the sauce on the top of the cake and using a toothpick to draw designs. Or not. Whatever you fancy really.
Ok, you're almost there. Take another sheet of tinfoil and cover the top of the tin. this is so your cake doesn't burn. Place the cheesecake tin into ANOTHER bigger tin. Place this HALFWAY into the oven. And finally, (and this is the LAST tricky bit. Promise.)  pour HOT water into the bigger tin until the level of water is about 1 inch high.
Alright, I might have lied a little about the tricky bit being over, cause finding out when the cheesecake is done is another fiddle all on it's own. Bake the cake for about 45-50 minutes. You won't be able to see when it's done because of the foil, but take it out and check at the 40 minute mark. You want it to be just set, but still jiggly in the centre.
Don't worry, it's not rocket science.
Just one thing to remember.
It's pointless plus it'll make it crack.
When done baking, turn off the oven and let the cake cool in there so it doesn't crack. Take it out and put it in the fridge overnight.
Wake up in the morning and have a slice for breakfast. Screw the diet! You deserve it.

Happy Belated Valentines Day.