Friday, January 28, 2011

Daring Bakers January: Biscuit Joconde Imprime/Entremet

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Joconde Sponge

Makes one big sheet of sponge.

85g almond meal
75g icing sugar
25g cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs - about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites - about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

  1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
  2. Sift almond flour, icing sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
  3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
  4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
  5. Fold in melted butter.
  6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-D├ęcor Paste

Makes one big sheet worth of paste.

100g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar
3 large egg whites
80g cake flour
30 g cocoa powder.


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
  2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.  Fold in. 
To make the nifty patterns, lay down some baking paper in a baking tray.  Pipe or spread the cocoa paste onto the tray in the pattern you desire, then freeze it solid, before pouring the sponge over it and baking the whole thing in a hot oven (250c) for 12-15 minutes, until cooked and springy.  I went for a simple pattern, made by spreading a layer of paste over the entire tray, and running a fork through the paste to make patterns.  You could pipe words or pictures onto the tray instead, for much more intricate designs, but as I have a small freezer, I was doing this in two parts, and wanted a sturdy design.  Will experiment with prettier ones at some other stage, because this challenge was fun.

Once cooled a little, flip the sponge onto a clean surface.  The side that was in the bottom of the pan becomes the visible one, and you should see a pattern where you had traced out designs in the paste.  Cut the sponge to size, and fit around the edge of your mould.  I used a high walled easy release cake tin.

Your cake will need some filling.  What you choose is up to you.  I went for three fillings, plus a base of leftover sponge from making the side-walls.  The first layer was chocolate mousse, followed by a stack of blueberries, an unbaked cheesecake layer, a caramel layer, then blueberries on top.

Heston Blumenthal recipe, stupidly easy.  One 200gm block of chocolate, 200mL of water.  Melt the chocolate and water together.  Sit an empty mixing bowl inside a second, slightly larger mixing bowl that has been filled with ice and water.  Pour chocolate/water mixture into the empty bowl, and whisk until thick.  Use an electric whisk, it takes a while.

Unbaked Cheesecake.
Also stupidly easy.  300mL of cream, a cup of icing sugar.  whisk together, add 250gm ricotta, 250gm cream cheese, and whisk/whip until thick and smooth.  Add a touch of vanilla essence if you want.  I also strained this through a wire seive to make sure there were no lumps of cream cheese or ricotta in the final product.

Take a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Submerge it completely in boiling water.  Boil for 3 hours, making sure there is always enough water that it remains submerged.  Open it.  You now have caramel.

Layer these into the cake mould.  Once done, you will have something that looks like a prettier version of this:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food in Japan (Part 2)

This marvellous looking creature is a fish shaped pikelet, cooked in large batches on a heavy iron griddle, and filled with (in this case) vanilla custard.  Other popular fillings include red bean paste, chocolate custard, and strawberries.  The custard is amazing, intensely vanilla, and the pastry is delicious.  These things are cheap (100-200 yen) and ubiquitous.

These are some nifty form of glutinous rice, shaped into balls, grilled on sticks and drizzled in a sweet soy-ish sauce, then served hot with ground nuts to dip the entire thing into.  Also incredibly tasty, not as cheap as the fish above, but well worth a try.  Some people might not appreciate the texture, but... 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Food in Japan (Part 1 of some)


There was a big market held at Toji Temple in Kyoto the day fter we arrived.  It was the last market of the year, and just before the Emperor's Birthday, so things were crowded and delicious.  We managed to eat the vanilla custard filled fish shaped pikelet and the sugar coated fried sweet potato without taking photographs, but the candied strawberries on a stick (above) and the okonomiyaki (below), a delicious shrimp, cabbage and assorted sundries filled rice flour pancake, topped with an egg and smothered in dried tuna flakes, sweet soy and mayonnaise, were both incredible.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Daring Bakers December Challenge: Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


¼ cup  lukewarm water
2 packages (14 grams) active dry yeast
1 cup milk
40 grams unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour
½ cup (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
45ml rum
100 grams flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath


In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

To make the dough
Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely. In a small saucepan, combine milk and  butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts. In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.  Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.  Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.  Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents! When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.