Monday, August 31, 2009

TWD Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Now I realize It's impossible to understand this is exactly the recipe in the title but you'll have to trust me !! I brought it to my mother's and I forgot to take my camera along !
These brownies were chosen by Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell and we really enjoied them, I think they werent as fudgy as usually brownies are because of the baking powder (or maybe I made some mistake) but the cheesecake part was fabulous !! If I'll make them another time I won't make the 'frosting': the marbled swils were so much cuter and I don't think the flavour needed it, but again probably I'm wrong !! Hope you will enjoy as much wandering around in theblogroll

Mimi's art

I recently discovered Etsy and it's such a tresure's filled site !
Yesterday I found out about Mimi Kirchner, a wonderful person and great artist.
She is offering a wonderful pincuschion to one of the people who show the video on her art (you can see it on the right column). I would have done it anyway because I fell in love with her people, but you should see how cute the pincushion is !!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

BBD # 23 Something You’ve Never Made Before : Focaccia Genovese

This month it was Ima group who took charge of the BBD, created by Zorra, and they chose a very free theme : "Something you've never made before", now, I'm sure every one of you has a whole bunch of never tried recipes, I didn't know where to start from when I saw this post by a very nice roman girl, Antonella, and that was it !! I don't know if you know who the Simili sisters are but they are quite famous here in Italy as you saw in the video they teach bread and pasta making all over the country. Their parents had a bakery in Bologna and they often bake using sourdough.

Focaccia Genovese with Sourdough

500 gr bread flour
300 gr sourdough
260 gr water
12 gr salt
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

3 TBS water
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Mix the sourdough with water, add the other ingredients and mix well.
Trasfer on a work surface and shape in a log oil it and put it in an oven pan mesuring 30 x 40 cm and let it rest for around 20/30 minutes and after that flatten it to cover the whole pan, cover and let raise for about an hour and a half. With the tips of your fingers dimple (?) the whole surface of the focaccia (so deep you can feel the pan) and sprinkle with water, oil and salt. Let it double or more (about 3 hours).

Bake in an hot oven at 200° Celsius for 25 to 30 minutes.

Grazie Antonella !!

Friday, August 28, 2009

TFF August Special Avocado No-cilantro and White Onion Salad

Ciao ! This week thanks to Megan's choice I made a very fresh salad without cilantro whish I can't find here but using some parsley instead . It's a great refreshing treat !!! Please visit TFF blog for more !

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge Dobos Torte and a New Baby

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 we were at the beach in July we met some friends who own two tortoise and Anita was so in love with them thath on the last day they gave her an egg. After almost a month I was in the kitchen fighting with my Dobos (always at the last moment !) when I heard her screaming : La tartaruga !!! And here we introduce her/he to you: we don't know the name yet because Carlo e Anita have been "discussing" since her birth but she already saw the vet and took a bath !!!

And here is the torte ! I made two minis using half the recipe but then after tasting it I did repentish : it's so good !!!

The recipe :

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 (ultrafine or superfine white) 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 (superfine or ultrafine white) 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 flavour.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

BBA Slow & Steady Cinnamon Buns

I finally reached my Slow and Steady friends and finally I made these Cinnamon Buns !! They are good but not too rich so you (I really shouldn't!) can indulge without feeling guilty !
I made them in the afternoon and photographed on the terrace table and left out to cool (if this word still exists) . That evening some friends gathered at our home for a simple dinner and when they saw them they just ate the buns as a dessert !! Andrea more traditionally had to hide one for breakfast ! Please visit the BBA page

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Linda of Tender Crumb this Tuesday decided on Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie and I wonder why I've never tried it before !!! This pie was exactly what we needed in this oven summer !!! Andrea, who usually tries my sweet baking for love's sake, became obsessed with this pie and asked it for his birthday in November !!
I made the crust with the Graham Crakers and followed the instructions very carefully : it took forever to reach the custard temp !!! I used a plumming torch to brown the meringue and we almost set the house on fire but it was well worth it ! Thanks again to Linda, please visit the TWD blogroll !!

Friday, August 21, 2009

TFF Chili night

I'm finally back to Tyler's recipes with another success !!
I had two corn cobs around so I found his recipe for a Corn Pudding that sounded very nice, then my brother called saying they were coming to Rome for a few days so I decided for 'the works' and I made his Chili as well.
I must confess right away that other than growing them myself I wouldn't know wher I could find all the wonderful peppers I needed so I just substituted them with italian hot chili but the results were very nice even so.
My brother is a botanist and I always tell my children he knows Everything which is 'almost' true in fact he told us how the power of hot peppers is classified, and how they lately found a super duper hot chili in India ( the guinnes winning chili mesured with the Scoville test ). He wanted to order some seeds for the Botanical Garden of Perugia University where he works but I don't think I'll have the gut to ever try it !!!
Please visit the blog for more wonderful recipe !!

We had dinner at my mother's house and while the grown ups ate the kids destroied the granny's living room !!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BBA Catching up the Slow and Steady Group !

As you might know the BBA group is baking as a train (?) that is gone so far I cannot even see it anymore, so I didn't want to loose my 'Slow and Steady' group even if that meant baking in the worst heat wave we are having this summer !!!

Starting with the Brioche here I chose the Poor man's one

and having enjoied so much the Dorie's version I made with it another fruit tart !!

Then follows the Casatiello which ended up in a colomba mold

But no matter where I put it was really delicious !! I used Prosciutto and Provolone btw

We are still in the enriched section with the Challah

That I just had for breakfast with some orange marmalade !

And last but not in the least the least.... Ciabatta

Which I tried to shape in the two ways suggested in Crust and Crumb

But apart from the shape both came out with smallish HOLES !

And I forgot to mention that all my baking has been done thanks to Calcifer my sourdough starter !!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD Applesauce Spice Bars

This week it was Karen of
Something Sweet by Karen who picked Applesauce Spice Bars.I made the bars as directed but omitted the nuts that were just too much for me and what can I say ? It was a funny feeling to be baking in this heat and more to be baking something that smelled like Christmas ! The most important thing to say is that the bars were really delicious Karen, you made a wonderful choice !
Please visit all the other TWDers who are baking in spite of the heat !

Friday, August 14, 2009

Daring Cook's Challenge : Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes

This new Challenge was chosen by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes, she has chosen a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment.
The making of this dish was in three steps: Sofregit, Aioli and the actual Rice.
I used little musky octopuses (moscardini) instead of cuttlefish and left them whole.
I really enjoied the Sofregit and the Aioli but I thought that the rice was a bit mild in flavour, it actually became much better with some Aioli.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD Banana Bundt Cake ...and all the catching up !

Finally back !! I missed you all so much ! I'm very happy to be able to visit you again and I've a lot to catch up as you worked a lot on the last month !!
This week it was Mary of The Food Librarian who chose this very simple and tasty recipe.
I used a bit more bananas so I added an extra egg, the pan I own ( a silicone rose shaped pan) looked a bit too full so , luckily, I made an extra little cake for Cristina, but I must admit I didn't mesure it before. Unfortunately the rose part stuck to the pan so some 'mice' had it.
I glazed only half cake but I liked both....
Thanks Mary I don't know about you but I have lots of bananas in my freezer !!!

Now , you wouldn't imagine I could stay a whole month without baking (I even brought my sourdough along !) so here are the Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies chosen by Lisa of Surviving Oz (made twice in the heat wave !!)

Denise of Chez Us picked Brioche Plum Tart and we really loved it very very much ! I used sourdough instead of yeast, we made it three times but Anita liked it better with peaches !

Then Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy selected Raspberry Blanc-Manger and we liked it too but I made it with nectarines and I will try it again sicilian style (using almond milk , corn flour and no cream ).

It will take me some time to visit you all but I can't wait !!! CIAO !