Wednesday, September 13, 2017

French Apple Cake. One Heavenly Cake You Must Bake This Fall!






French Apple Cake. Don't be fooled by the fancy name, this cake is unbelievably easy and the results are just divine! This cake from Dorie Greenspan has a whole lot of apples and just enough flour to hold them all together. Buttery and super moist, this cake is a breeze to make. 

You don't even need to go scouting around for the 'right' kind of apples, you can actually use whatever you have or can find easily. You can use rum for a more authentic flavor, but vanilla is amazing too. Just the kind of cake you would want to bake for company. Wonderful served as it when warm, incredibly good served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 


                                                              
This recipe is from Dorie's book Around the French Table.  For most people, baking is about measures and method, but for her talented French friend Helene ( and the majority of the French population I gather), it is just throwing things together, adding a bit of this and that as you go. Dorie loved this cake, but her friend just could not give her the exact recipe! 

She experimented to recreate that cake and now Thanks to Dorie's perfect recipe, you and I can have a slice of this delightful French cake right at home. You will see how incredibly simple this is!   

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Ingredients 
(please weigh for best results)

All purpose flour/maida - 110 grams (approx 3/4 cup), read note below
Baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Salt - tiny pinch
Apples - 4 large / 525 grams approximate weight after peeling and coring them
Eggs - 96 grams without shell / 2 large, at room temperature
Vanilla sugar, powdered - 150 grams 
Dark rum - 3 tablespoons (OR 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk with 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. If using synthetic essence, use just 1 teaspoon)
Soft Unsalted butter - 112 grams / 1/2 cup, melted and cooled to room temperature

Method : 
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Generously Butter an 8 0r 9'' springform tin. I used an 8x3'' one
  • Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. 
  • Peel and core the apples, cut them into 1-inch chunks 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until they are foamy, we are not trying to work up a volume. 
  • Add the sugar, whisk till it dissolves. 
  • Whisk in the rum (or milk) and vanilla.
  • Gently whisk in half the flour, then half the melted butter.
  • Mix in the rest of the flour and then the remaining butter.
  • Be sure you mix well after each addition. You will have a smooth and thick batter.
  • Using a spatula, gently fold in the cubed apples, the batter needs to coat the pieces.  It will look like a lot of apples coated with very little batter, that is how it is meant to be!
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top. Place the pan on the baking sheet
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Place the tin on a cooling rack, let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  • Run a blunt knife around the cake, making sure no apples are stuck to the pan. Remove the clasp of the tin. Let the cake cool completely. 
  • Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
  • Cut into wedges and serve. It is fabulous warm on its own. You could also serve with creme fraiche or vanilla /cinnamon ice cream. Cinnamon ice cream will be heavenly I can imagine! Chilled creme anglaise is another of my favorites with this cake. 
  • Store:  The cake can be stored for 2 days at room temperature. It tastes more like apple clafoutis the next day, which is wonderful too! 
Variation: I made mini cakes replacing the flour with 1 part flour and 2 parts millet flour and it turned out good! 

Am sure you have some apples in your fruit basket, do not wait, try this today! Like me, you will make this again and again!

Looking for more? How about this 100% Whole Wheat Moist Carrot & Pineapple Cake? Makes an amazing snack box treat!






Friday, September 8, 2017

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse




Rich, dark and decadent, bittersweet chocolate mousse. Need I say more? There are different recipes you could try to make this irresistible chocoholic's dessert. Whipped egg white is commonly folded into melted chocolate to make it light and airy. You can also simply fold in whipped cream into melted chocolate. Then there is Heston Blumenthal's revolutionary method where he makes mousse with just chocolate and water! Alice Medrich's Irish Coffee Mousse involves cooking eggs indirectly to eliminate the risk of salmonella, so on and so forth.

I tried this recipe from David Lebovitz from his book Ready For Dessert and it turned out to be so good! Why wouldn't it be considering he makes it by folding in whipped cream into silky, smooth chocolate custard? Eggs do make a difference here. David suggests serving the mousse with Pear and Fig Chutney. Even if you are not adventurous enough to try that, please do try the mousse. Topped with some coffee whipped cream, you will love it! 



Ingredients

Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate 280 grams, chopped( I used More Dark)
Whole milk - 180 ml
Instant coffee - 1/2 teaspoon
Granulated sugar - 2 tablespoons / 30 grams( I used 1 tablespoon)
Egg yolks - 4, large / 72 grams
Rum or cognac - 2 teaspoons
Heavy cream, cold - 1/2 cup/120 ml ( I used Milky Mist)

Method: Put the chocolate in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, instant coffee and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks. Very slowly dribble the hot milk into the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat stirring constantly. The custard needs to cook and coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overcook or it will curdle. Immediately pour the custard through the strainer, over the chocolate. Stir to melt until smooth. Stir in rum or cognac if using. Let cool completely.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Let the cream come to room temperature. This is very important. Then gently fold in the whipped cream into 1/3 of the chocolate custard. Then fold in the rest gently until you see no streaks of cream. Spoon into glasses, keep the portions small, the mousse is quite rich. Chill until set, about 3 hours or over night. 

Author's note: You can transfer the mousse to a wide, shallow container before chilling to help it firm up faster. 

Confession: I folded in double the amount of whipped cream by mistake, but the mousse tasted just fine and quite rich. I will be making this again, will post an update here.
I have used less sugar, you can make half the above recipe, and make changes as needed before you serve this at a dinner party :) 




Watch my video How to Whip Cream 





Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mango Pastry Cream Genoise Trifles - Getting To Know The Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!



So I now have a Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer occupying a place of pride on my counter! Thanks to Kitchen Aid for sending it to me, happy to be involved in some content creation work with them. Am thrilled of course, who wouldn't want to use this machine preferred and trusted by most professional bakers across the world!  Among other things, the machine can whip eggs like fury, something you can't achieve with a handheld mixer. It is fairly simple to use and maintain, the work happens very efficiently, totally hands-free!

I love using fatless sponges but have never really been happy with the results when I tried my hand at baking genoise (pronounced Jen-wahz). Typically, to make this European sponge-type cake, eggs and sugar are heated together over simmering water and then whipped to a ribbon stage. Fat is used to make the cake slightly tender. Unlike a fatless sponge which can absorb syrup without becoming soggy, a genoise needs to be moistened with just the right amount of syrup or it will turn out to be heavy. So careful here!

When I baked the first cake, the eggs whipped up amazingly well, whipped to stiff peaks in 5 minutes flat !(this is something that doesn't work as I figured out later). I thought I did a decent job of folding the flour in as the batter filled the pan 2/3 full and was quite billowy. The cake rose very well and then, poof! to my despair, it sank! I then read about over beaten eggs making a foam that is unstable. There! One part of the problem identified. I made 2 more and finally one which came close to the intended result, thanks to all the help from Rose's blog. 

Quite light, not very sweet with a fine crumb. Moral of the story, no matter how much you read up or watch videos, practice is the only way to really learn and improve. Hope to make better ones as I go!


A couple of things I gather about making a genoise, if you have never baked one before, this may help. Would highly recommend watching Rose's video here for a better idea. 

  • Weigh the whites and yolks separately, you will, of course, mix them again before heating. 
  • The egg and sugar mixture should feel almost hot to the touch but not over 110F. Use an instant read thermometer to check.
  • The eggs need to be whipped until triple in volume, thick ribbon stage. Over whipping the eggs may cause them to go to stiff peak stage, so that may have caused my first genoise to sink.
  • If using a KA stand mixer, whip the eggs and sugar on speed 10 (the highest speed) for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully. 
  • Once you add sugar to the eggs, whisk immediately or it will clump up.

Here is the recipe for Genoise Classique from The Cake Bible. You can, of course, use it in a million ways, I made trifles with mango puree, pastry cream, and whipped cream. 

Mango Pastry Cream Genoise Trifles

Genoise Classique

Clarified beurre noisette / ghee - 3 tablespoons
Vanilla - 1 teaspoon
Egg yolks, 4 large - 72 grams
Egg whites, 4 large - 120 grams
Superfine sugar - 1/2 cup / 100 grams
Sifted cake flour - 1/2 cup / 50 grams
(I used 42 grams all purpose flour and 8 grams cornflour)
Cornflour/cornstarch - 50 grams

Syrup 

Sugar - 1/4 cup + 1.5 teaspoons / 56 grams
Water - 1/2 cup
Liqueur of your choice - 2 tablespoons(I used more water)

To make the genoise

Mise en place. Grease and line a 9''x2'' round tin with baking parchment, spray the sides. 

Pre heat oven to 180C/350F. Warm the ghee until almost hot, add vanilla and keep it warm(I kept it in a bowl of hot water).

Take the eggs and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Place this over a pan of simmering water, heat until almost hot to the touch (105-110F), whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Beat the egg mixture on the highest speed of the stand mixer for almost 5 minutes,till and forms thick ribbons. This is very important. 

While the eggs are beating, sift together the cornflour and all purpose flour thrice. Return the flour to the sifter. Keep 2 lightly greased cooling racks ready.

Once the eggs are beaten, remove one scant cup(approximately) of the mixture and thoroughly mix into the warm ghee, it doesn't matter if this cup of egg mixture deflates. Set aside.

Sift 1/2 the flour mixture over the beaten eggs, gently but rapidly, fold in using a large balloon whisk(I loved this!). At this point, it is OK to see some flour. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, making sure all the flour is incorporated. Fold in the butter mixture using a large spatula. 

Pour immediately into the prepared pan, the batter will be about 2/3 full. Bake for 25-35 minutes or till the cake starts shrinking slightly away from the sides of the tin. Do not open the oven door before 25 minutes or the cake will fall. 

Loosen the sides of the cake with a thin metal spatula. Immediately invert the cake and reinvert so the top side is up. This will prevent the cake from falling. Cool completely. Trim the top and bottom crusts. 

The cake can be stored at room temperature for 2 days, refrigerated 5 days, frozen for 2 months. 

To make the syrup

In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, cover and cool completely. This should be about 3/4 cup/ 180 ml.

To assemble the trifle

Fresh mango puree 1.5 cups
Whipped cream, sweetened to taste - 1 cup
Vanilla pastry cream - 2 cups (recipe below)

Julia Child's Pastry cream recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Whole milk - 2 cups/ 480 ml
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Egg yolks - 108 grams / 6 large
Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup
All-purpose flour  - 48 grams - 6 tablespoons
Unsalted butter - 30 grams / 2 tablespoons 

  • Suspend a fine meshed strainer over a medium sized heat proof bowl. Set this near your stove. Have a spatula ready nearby.
  • In a small saucepan, combine your milk and vanilla bean flecks (if using extract instead, don’t add it yet). Heat the milk and vanilla bean till just before the boiling point. Turn off the heat.
  • In the bottom of a heavy saucepan, off the heat, beat or whisk your egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar.  Whisk in the flour until fully incorporated. (recipe directs to whisk till it forms ribbons, I have simply whisked)
  • Whisking the whole time, drizzle the hot vanilla-milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, just a tiny bit at a time at first. Once you’ve added about 1/4 of the milk, you can add the rest in a thin stream, whisking constantly.
  • Bring the saucepan to your stove and heat it over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. Once bubbling, whisk it for 1 to 2 more minutes, then remove it from the heat. Immediately stir in vanilla extract (if using) and butter until combined. Press through the strainer.
  • To cool your custard quickly, place the saucepan in a larger bowl of ice water that will go halfway up the sides of the saucepan (i.e. water should not spill in) and stir the custard till it's cool. Press wrap to the surface, chill till needed. You could refrigerate this for up to 3 days.
  • Gently fold in the whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream. Cover and chill. 

Moisten the cake with syrup evenly. Layer the pastry cream, mango puree, and cake. Repeat. Chill at least overnight and serve.