Thursday, December 25, 2014

Bûche de Noël - Merry Christmas!

Hope you had much fun baking this season,  I certainly did!  Had all good intentions of posting lots Christmas goodies this month.  Meringue Mushrooms and Mince Pies happened alright, a Gingerbread House almost happened too!  Not surprisingly, I underestimated the precision needed to glue the pieces together.  The decorated Gingerbread Men, The Christmas Trees, the stars and snowflakes stared back at me every time I went up to the kitchen.  Disaster struck when one of my wooden boards crashed on one of the decorated 'walls'.  Too much work to start all over again and I lost interest.  The fruit cake was not quite there and I could have cried!

I almost gave up on the last post of the month, but hubby and the meringue mushrooms I had saved pushed me to try a Bûche de Noël . A previous attempt last year with Rose Levy's recipe was quite good, but the slices ended up ended up looking like slices of boiled egg. Ugh! Yesterday saw me finish my chores early and apprehensively bake a Chocolate Almond Roulade in a real frenzy. Thankfully, it turned out quite well  and I finally have something for Christmas! A rich, indulgent and flavorful chocolate-almond roulade filled with vanilla whipped cream. 

Chocolate Almond Roulade - Adapted from Alice Medrich's Chocolate Holidays

Ingredients To bake in a 17 x 11 inch jelly roll pan. I have halved the recipe to bake in a 10 x 6 inch pan. 

For the cake : 

Almonds (or hazelnuts), toasted and coarsely chopped - 1/4 cup / 36 grams approximately
All purpose Flour - 16 grams / 2 tablespoons
Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped - 168 grams / 6 oz
Unsalted butter at room temperature - 1/2 cup / 113 grams / 1 stick
Eggs - 4, separated ( Whites - 120 grams, Yolks - 72 grams)
Sugar - 3/4 cup / 150 grams, divided use
Cream of tartar - 1/8 teaspoon
Instant coffee - 1 teaspoon (optional)
Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon

Cocoa for dusting on top - 2-3 tablespoons, preferably Dutch Process

Filling : 

1 cup heavy cream, cold, whipped with 2 teaspoons instant coffee and vanilla.

Ganache for decoration (optional)

Meringue Mushrooms- For decoration

Do ahead : Whip the cream to soft peaks and refrigerate. Chop up enough chocolate for the roll and for the ganache if you decide to use it. Helps cover an almost broken roll! Have your bowls, beaters, spoons, spatula etc etc washed, free of grease and dried for whipping the egg whites. 

Line your jelly roll pan with parchment leaving an overhang.

Pre-heat oven to 180 C / 350 F. Mise en place.

Process the nuts with the flour carefully until finely ground, but not oily. Set aside

Reserve 1/4 cup of sugar to add to egg whites.
Unless you have two sets of beaters, whip the egg whites till soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in 1/4 cup sugar, beating till stiff (but not dry). Set aside.

Using a microwave (50% power) or in a heatproof bowl set in simmering water, melt the chocolate, coffee and butter stirring till smooth . Set aside.

Beat the yolks and remaining sugar till pale and thick, I did this for about 5 minutes on the highest speed of my hand mixer. 

Stir in the melted chocolate into the beaten yolks. 

Using a spatula, fold in a quarter of the whites and then all of the flour-nut mixture into this. 

Finally, fold in the remaining whites. 

Spread the batter evenly in the lined pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted comes out clean with moist crumbs. Do not over bake. 

Cover the pan (with the cake still in) with a clean damp towel  Let cool completely. Lift it out using the overhang.

You need to invert the cake and then roll it up, but mine was very fragile, so I filled the cream right on the parchment, rolled it up and transferred to the platter. It not just cracked, but almost broke! 

Simply dust cocoa on top or frost with ganache, let set for a while, then decorate with a fork or an off set spatula. 

Serve thin slices at room temperature. 

I am having trouble with my Morphy Richards 40 L oven, so had to bake in a small pan in my microwave. This doesn't look as bad as I had feared it would, though I wish it looked gorgeous like the roulades I have been dreaming about. Clumsy like mine or not, you will surely enjoy this roll!

Merry Christmas again!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Fruit Mince Pies

With aromatic Quick Mincemeat ready in my refrigerator, Fruit Mince Pies were the obvious way to enjoy it!  If you love these pies, please do make your own mincemeat as its very little effort and is infinitely tweak-able. Once this is ready, these pies are easy, quick and fun to put together. Spicy, plumped up dried fruit and candied peel in a flaky pie crust. Obviously rich, these are better bite-sized. Unless you are someone like me, you will make them look pretty too! Cut out the pastry to make stars and snowflakes, bring the festive little treats to the Christmas table!

Three days is all you get to use up the mincemeat without alcohol! And then hasten to roll out some quick pie crust. The crust here has very little sugar, perhaps better with all the sweet fruit in the mincemeat. But a less rich (but sweeter) crust like this one in the Bittersweet chocolate mousse tart should work just as well. I like to pre-bake the crust to ensure its properly baked and satisfactory before I put in the filling, re-warm briefly and serve. This also gives you the option to bake the pastry well ahead of time, the better if yours will be a busy Christmas. Of course, you may not get the applause you deserve as the snowflakes or stars on top may topple any moment, but yes, your fruit will be soft and the pastry will taste fresh! 

Ingredients : 

Mincemeat - 1 cup (depending on the size of your pies)

Pie crust : 

Flour : 175 grams
Butter : 113 grams, cubed and chilled till very cold
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Powdered sugar - 1/2 tablespoon
Ice cold water - 2 tablespoons (plus 1 tablespoon if needed)
Freshly grated orange zest - 1 teaspoon (optional)
Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

Equipment : One Small and another large metal bench scraper. Chill these at least for 15 mins.  Alternatively you could use a food processor. 

A rolling pin.

A mini muffin tray, star / snowflake shaped cookie cutters in suitable sizes. Round or fluted cookie cutter according to the size of your muffin tray.  (Test with some roti atta to be sure about the sizes!)

Pie weights or kidney beans. Small squares of aluminum foil

Cling film

Special instructions : Work in a cool kitchen.

Method : To make the pie crust : 

Mise en place.

Whisk the orange zest into the cold water. Let this remain in the freezer till you use it. Do not leave it too long or it will freeze! Keep the extra tablespoon water in another cup in the freezer. 

Sift together the powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt. Transfer the flour mixture onto your kitchen counter. 

Dump the cold butter on the flour. Toss the pieces in the flour so that the flour coats it. 

Using the bench scraper, briskly cut the butter into the flour till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. This will take a couple of minutes.

Make a well in the middle of the flour. Take 2 tablespoons cold water from the freezer and pour into the well. Gently gather the flour into the water using your fingertips. The dough will begin to come together. 

If you pinch some dough between your thumb and forefinger, it should hold together and not crumble apart. Though the mixture may look dry-ish at this stage, it will come together well. Add more of the chilled water just half a teaspoon at a time if the mixture doesn't hold when pinched. Remember, excess water will make the pastry tough. 

Once you have added the needed amount of water, divide the flour mixture into two portions.  Smear each portion gently once across the counter with the heel of your hand. Gather it back, the pastry will be smoother now. 

Flatten, wrap it in the cling film well and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Overnight is fine too.

When ready to bake : 

If the pastry is very firm, leave it (still wrapped) on the counter for 15-20 minutes or till firm but malleable enough.

Flour your counter very lightly. 

Gently roll out the pastry about 3-4 mm thick. Cut out the circles. 

Slip them in gently into the muffin molds, taking care not to stretch it or it will shrink later. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour or overnight to suit your schedule. Cut out stars or snowflakes with the remaining pastry. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with cling film and refrigerate. 

Pre-heat oven to 190 C/ 375 F. Remove cling film, place squares of foil inside the cups, put some kidney beans to weigh them down and bake for 18-20 minutes or till light golden and crisp. Bake the star cut outs separately. Store airtight till needed.

To serve: Place a teaspoon of mincemeat in the pastry cups ( I have gone overboard!). Top with the cut outs, heat in a pre-heated oven for 2 minutes. Serve warm. 

Owning a Kitchen Aid is every baker's dream and I hope my wish is fulfilled this Christmas! Kitchen Aid India plays Santa and I am sending these pies to the Kitchen Aid Christmas Blogger Contest.  Listening Santa? 

Get a special ‘Christmas Frosting Kit’ as gift with purchase of the iconic KitchenAid 4.8 L Tilt Head Stand Mixer from 1st-31st December 2014, and make delectable memories this Christmas. For more details, visit #KitchenAidTurnsSanta

Friday, December 12, 2014

Welcome To Bakersville - Let's Get Started!

Introduction To Baking - For The New Wannabe Bakers Watch my video
How To Use A Convection Microwave For Baking Watch my video
Baking Gadgets And Paraphernalia - Must Haves And Nice To Haves! Watch my video 1 and video 2
Basic Baking Ingredients - Part 1
Basic Baking Ingredients - Part 2 
Common Basic Baking Terms - Part 1 
Common Basic Baking Terms - Part 2 
Common Basic Baking Terms - Part 3 
Basic Baking Conversions Chart - Watch the video
Preparing Pans For Baking - A General Guide 
How To Line Cake Pans - Watch video
General Baking Prep - Simple Things To Do When You Bake 
Eggy Snippets
Yeast Basics - For A Beginner

Cakes, Cupcakes etc

Butter Sponge Cake
Date And Banana Cake - A Guest Post By Archana
Mocha Walnut Bundt Cake - Dorie Greenspan's Recipe
Fiadone - Corsican Cheesecake
Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunk Muffins (Basic Muffin Recipe)
Coffee Almond Chocolate Dessert Cakes
Lemon Pistachio Baby Bundt Cakes - Meeting Kate Bracks!
Rich Mawa Cake (With Homemade Mawa, A Daring Bakers Challenge)
Olive Oil Citrus Syrup Mini Bundt Cakes
Chocolate Idiot Cake - Really Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake!
Ottolenghi's Carrot Walnut Cake
Orange Poppy Seed Financiers

Cocoa Tuiles
Oven Baked Ice Cream Cones
Pumpkin Walnut Spiced Squares
Bolinhas De Coco
Saffron Tuiles
Winter Solstice Cookies
Cinnamon Cornmeal Biscotti
Spiced Carrot Macaroons
Flourless Coffee Almond Cookies
Cocoa Meringue Mushrooms
Lemon Poppy Seed Thins
Whole Wheat Almond Biscotti

Brownies And Bars

No Knead Soft Cinnamon Rolls (Eggless) - Pioneer Woman's Recipe
Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Crust
No-Knead Skillet Yeast Flatbread
A Simpe Bread - Saying Hello To My Bread Machine!
Herbed Potato Rolls
Panettone - A Lower Fat Version - With The Daring Bakers
Paneer Tikka Tart
Empanadas With Creamy Potato And Caramelized Onions
Herbed Pull-Apart Bread - A Guest Post By Sumana
No-knead Nutella And Orange Rolls (Eggless)
Crisp Yeasted Flatbreads (Daring Bakers) 
Grissini - Thin Breadsticks
No Knead Quick Pizza - It Can't Get Easier!
French Bread - Quick And Easy!
Creamy, Cheesy Savory Pot Pie - A Daring Bakers Challenge
Almond Ricotta Brioche Danish - For World Bread Day
Cinnamon Sugar Breadsticks
Pioneer Woman's Easy Pizza Crust

 Cheesy Baked Custard - With Mark Bittman's Basic Savory Custard Recipe
Cafe Au Lait Pots De Creme 

 Baking Ingredients Supplies In Bangalore

Julia Child's Crème Renversée au Caramel aka Caramel Custard
Mille Feuille With Whipped Orange Curd - I Join The Daring Bakers!
Tropical Coconut Wafers And Ice Cream Cones
Bengali Rasmalai - A Guest Post By Sayantani
Rustic Apple Galette - A Guest Post By Sweatha
Orange Mascarpone Cream Ladyfinger Verrines
Tartine's Clafoutis
Chocolate Mousse Tart - A Daring Baker's Challenge
Creamy Carrot Kheer
Saffron Tuiles With Saffron And Pistachio Diplomat Cream
Creme Pattissiere Tartlets
Kiwi, Lime Syrup Sponge And Cream Trifle
Basundi - Creamy Milk Pudding
Kiwi Lime Syrup Sponge Trifle
Cream Puffs
Easy Butterscotch Sauce
Crisp Apple Crumble - Tailor Made For Everyone!
Kiwi Quark Mousse - With Zespri
Carrot Halwa - Gajar Ka Halwa

Orange Yogurt Cake - Oh- so-delicious!!
Double Chocolate Granola


Easy Dhokla Chaat
Pioneer Woman's Potato Parcels



How To