Thursday, 3 September 2009

Late! Daring Bakers' August Challenge - Dobos Torte

7/8 layers, woot
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.

I did this at the start of the month, and as such completely forgot about it when it was time to post. ^_^;

So, Dobos Torte.

It wasn't too difficult to make, really, but it did require a little time and busyness. Making the pancakey cake layers went like so:
Start with two trays in the oven with layers baking on them.
Then take some more mixture and spread another layer onto a paper circle.
Swap it with the most cooked layer in the oven - Put it back in on the top shelf, moving the other cake to the shelf below.
Rinse and repeat until the mixture is gone.
Peel the paper off all of the layers, breaking a few in the process.
Shrug and start to build the cake.

Never done a cake like this before, hehe.

Now, assemblage!

teehee, bad stop motion, couldn't resist
(Ah, that was fun! The kitchen was disgracefully messy (not my kitchen though!), badly lit (well, it was dusk) and I was balancing the camera awkwardly on an empty juice carton... but still, doing such things delights me. :P)

Did some basic sugar-butter-chocolate buttercream. Slopped the stuff on haphazardly. Tried to make it neat. Realised I hadn't trimmed the layers at all.

It was very slippery. Maybe I didn't let the cake cool completely or maybe it was just a runnier buttercream, but it did seem to want to slide somewhat.

But hey.

Caramel layer time!

I cut up a cake layer, put it on a greased tray, poured over the caramel-stuff. Left it overnight and had terrible trouble getting the pieces off the tray! at least they bent rather than snapped, eh? The good thing about caramel, I find, is that it always manages to look kinda pretty.

No pictures of the fully assembled cake, and maybe that's not such a bad thing, because overall it was rather... ugly. Oh, I do envy everyone else's beautifully presented cakes sometimes. I need to put some effort towards that really. :P

Here's the half-decorated Dobos:

VERDICT: Alright.

Nice cake, but I don't think it's really my *thing*. The cake was light and delicate in taste and texture. The caramel layer was... odd. There was something about the caramel layer that seemed weird and gave it what I can only describe as a 'clinical' taste. My guess it was the bottled lemon juice I used. However, it was a bit chewy too, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but it made it rather difficult to eat. We would end up with a great lump of the stuff left on our plates.

Good challenge, but wouldn't do again.

Friday, 31 July 2009

"Checkers, anyone?" - Daring Bakers' July Challenge, Almost

Okay, another fail this month. The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. I wanted to do the mallows - I love 'em, they even have a special silly name in our household (motorbike cakes, don't ask). :P

But wait - there was no gelatine in the house to make the marshmallow, bother. I was not going to drive to the nearest supermarket just for that, so I used ready-made mini-marshmallows. If I was at my student place I could have used some of the home-made marshmallow fluff I have sitting in the freezer... but oh well!

So, anyway, I got to work on the bases. Even using 1/3 of the recipe it made loads! I had only prepped one baking sheet,and my reasoning was - if only I'd cut them thicker! I decided to double them up rather than re-rolling (hey, I was late for the deadline, okay?), which was my first mistake.

Then I baked them with a little marshmallow on top of each (just one, because the damn things kept falling off and melting all over the baking tray). Some of the biscuits decided to seperate during cooking (don't blame them really), so I inverted those and made marshmallow sandwiches.

Then the chocolate - oh, the chocolate! Instead of cocoa butter or vegetable oil I decided to add... evaporated milk. Just a drop, but my, how it did thicken the chocolate! Dipping was no longer an option; in the end I just splodged the stuff on top and attempted to spread it a bit.

Ah, I made a right mess of it, and I wouldn't call the end result Mallows (or Milans :P). Thing is, they remind me of draughts/checkers counters. Stacked in twos we have the kings, and we have the black and white colours... Wanna play? ;)

Better news: I'm moving into my new student house tomorrow and I predict that it will be awesome - and I may have to do some baking to 'break in' the kitchen, right? Maybe I'll even remember to blog it! :0
Aaand I picked up a piping set during my pre-move visit to Ikea. Never used the things before but have been wanting to get some for yonks, so yay! Nicely decorated cakes, coming soon???

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Daring Cooks' June Challenge - Chinese Dumplings / Potstickers

Last minute cooking for the win! These were a little rushed. Quite fun, though, haven't ever made chinese food that isn't a stir-fry before.

I made a pork filling with the following added: ginger, rhubarb, beansprouts, spring onions and garlic. The rhubarb was rather experimental. I didn't add much and couldn't taste it in the finished dish. Actually, it needed more flavour overall... Note-to-self: more ginger next time, less beansprouts.

As you can see, I was a bit haphazard with my wrapper-rolling. All different sizes and shapes! :P Still, managed to get lots of dumpling-shaped things in the end:

Made potstickers, but didn't fry them very much (was getting impatient!).

Conclusion: a bit bland due to vegetable proportions, but nice dipped in a mix of soy sauce and tabasco.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Daring Bakers' May Challenge - Apple Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I loved this! I'll definitely try it again sometime.

The components - apple filling mixture, dough, butter and breadcrumbs:

The dough really wanted to stretch! I had trouble keeping track of it. :P But I managed to get it pretty thin with only a few holes:

Buttered, breadcrumbed and filling positioned:

Rooled, baked and drizzled with icing:


This was a great pre-birthday cake for me, hehe.

Friday, 8 May 2009

First Daring Cooks' Challenge - Ricotta Gnocchi

Woohoo, Daring Cooks is off and away!

I have a confession to make - I didn't even know what gnocchi were before this challenge! Neither had I used ricotta before. Interesting stuff!

I found a 250g tub of ricotta at the supermarket, which was just about the right amount to make half the recipe. I drained it overnight and then some, using an awful lot of kitchen roll.

Here's the gnocchi-ready ricotta:

Mixed up with eggs and other goodness (I added both lemon rind and nutmeg to the dough):

Formed into dumplings:



Thoughts: They were quite pleasant to eat, with a nice light texture, but I don't think I'd make them again. I don't know, perhaps it was because I tried to eat it all... halfway through, the realisation set in that I was pretty much eating cheese drenched in butter. :P

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Daring Bakers' April Challenge - Strawberry Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I've never made a cheesecake before, so I didn't want to do do anything too drastic to the recipe - in the end I decided to make mine a strawberry cheesecake.
It's a cute little half-sized cake since I didn't have enough cheese in the fridge to make a full-sized one. I also had some leftover topping from a fruit crumble, so I used that as well.
I thought I'd try amending the recipe as I went along to keep track of what I was doing for future reference, so I'll post that here (I forgot the water bath, so I'm leaving it out of this rewrite - it seemed fine without it anyway):


145g digestive biscuits, crushed
60g butter, melted

330g cream cheese, room temperature
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
100ml double cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
puréed strawberries
40g ground almonds

crumble topping, ground almonds and fresh strawberries, to decorate


1. Preheat fan oven to 160°C. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into a 17cm tin. Add a thin layer of sliced strawberries. Set aside.

2. Combine cream cheese and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add eggs, a little at a time. Add double cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and blend until smooth and creamy. Separate batter into halves: pour one half into the tin.

post-Step 1.

3. Stir puréed strawberries into the remaining batter and strain through a sieve. Add 40g ground almonds, then pour into the tin on top of the other layer and tap the tin on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface.

4. Bake for 35 minutes, until almost firm, sprinkling with crumble topping and ground almonds 15 minutes before it is ready. Turn off heat and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour, then remove it and leave to finish cooling. Decorate with strawberries, cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Finished Cheesecake


I had fun making this and will be making cheesecake again, no doubt. To be honest this one could have tasted more strongly of strawberries, and perhaps I should have added a touch more sugar as well... but I was very pleased with it in any case. :D

Friday, 27 March 2009

Daring Bakers' March Challenge - Lasagne

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

At first, I was a bit put out by being set a savoury challenge. I do enjoy cooking, but I tend to prefer making cakes and sweet things. However, even though I've never made a lasagne before, let alone hand-rolled my own pasta, I had a lot of fun! It was hard work, but the end result was gorgeous. Soo, guess what? I've decided to join the Daring Cooks as well. :D Here's hoping I'll be able to keep up with 2 challenges a month!

Making the dough:

It was terribly sticky! After adding copious amounts of flour during the rolling process, I managed to get my sheets hanging to dry on the clothes airer:

I cooked the pasta the next day:
Half-assembled lasagne:
Before cooking:
Out of the oven:
And finally, the leftovers (which we had the next day):

Monday, 23 March 2009

Mango Chutney

I actually did this back in... January, I think, along with a batch of lemon curd which I didn't get pictures of. Anyway, here's my first venture into the world of condiments!
The ingredients :
Nicely chopped and sorted :
All in the pan :
Halfway there :
Finished! :
And finally, bottled up :

It's very nice in cheese-and-chutney toasties.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Daring Bakers' February Challenge

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

So, this is my first Daring Baker challenge... and I kinda failed. :P It was fun anyway, though, and I'm definitely going to try ice cream again sometime (i.e. during summer!).

Since I only had a smaller sized bar of chocolate in my cupboard, I halved the recipe (well, more like 2/5thed it) and made muffin-tin sized cakes.

Mmm, melted chocolate mixture...

So, I put it in the oven, then cleverly decided not to set a timer and rather go by the fact that it was 10 mins to the hour... remembered suddenly at twenty past - cakes! Oh no! The mini cakes had been cooking even longer than the big cake should've. *gulp* Suprisingly they weren't totally blackened, so I cut the charred edges off with a small cookie cutter.

What was left:

For the ice-cream, I used this lovely frozen yoghurt recipe from David Lebovitz. Freezing without a special machine was easier than I thought it would be, and I even tried adding some chocolate chips (using chocolate mixture from the cake :3).

The colour isn't great since I'm a cheapo and used tinned strawberries (which are pretty much grey things in red juice). It tasted nice enough anyway, and made up for the dry little cakes. :P

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Strawberry Pocky-ish

It's February, it's snowing, and I'm back in the student kitchen (and it's my turn to clean it, therefore I am taking this chance to get it good and messy :P).

The SU shop here sells Pocky, and of course I've now become hopelessly addicted. So, I thought I'd try making my own:

Ooh, bad picture...
Yay! They're not exactly as pretty and delicate as the real thing, but the flavour was just as good.

My Strawberry Pocky Recipe
(Obviously not perfect, but I'll write it down for the record)

200g Plain Flour
Pinch of salt
50g light brown Sugar
50g Butter (or margerine)
1 small Egg
(I also added a handful of porrige oats on a whim, but I don't think they matter enough to include here)

100-120g white chocolate (I only used about 80g and tried to bulk it up with icing sugar and a little milk for some reason - disaster!)
3-5 tsp strawberry flavour milkshake powder

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl, then rub in the butter. Stir in the egg with enough water to make the dough stick together. Bung it in the fridge to chill for a while, then roll it out, cut into strips (I rolled it to the size of the large chopping board I was working on, and cut roughly 1cm strips), and roll into cylinders. Cut them down to the size you want (unless you want them ridiculously long). Bake for about 10 mins at 200 degrees C.

Melt the chocolate and stir in the milkshake powder. Dip the baked dough fingers into the mixture (or spoon some over) and shake off excess. Leave to cool/set.

(My dough that was nearest the back of the oven burned slightly on the ends, although the rest was fine. I just snapped off the offending parts before I dipped 'em. Also, my strawberry chocoate mixture was a bit thin due to my earlier blunder - next time I would use more chocolate, and maybe double-dip them to get a nice, thick, non-runny coating.)

Also, just for larks, I thought I'd calculate the cost of making these. I sifted through some receipts and estimate the ingredients to cost about 80p. Pretty good, seeing as they sell for 98p in boxes containing at most half the amount I made. Teehee!

I might try these again some time, perhaps in a different flavour... ooh, the possibilities! Dark chocolate and coconut perhaps.