Sunday, May 26, 2013

Daring Bakers, May 2013: Prinsesstårta

Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta. 

Looks good, right? This cake is ridiculous. Multiple layers of sponge, interspersed with jam and pastry cream, the top filled with very whipped cream, the whole thing coated in marzipan. Completely crazy. Really tasty. Not. That. Hard. (Really!)

She asked us to make a huge cake. I made a small cake, and played around with the proportions a bit in doing so. I'm still not sure the two of us will finish it.  So, how do we do this?  There are 4 parts, plus assembly.  Custard, Sponge, Marzipan, Cream.  Ingredients are listed under each section.

Vanilla Custard

1/2 cup cream, divided (2x 1/4 cup)
2 egg yolks from large eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

Whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch together until smooth and creamy.  Add 1 portion of the cream, and whisk again to combine.  Heat the other portion of cream with the vanilla until just below boiling.  Pour into the egg mixture slowly, whisking gently to combine as you do.  Transfer all back into the pot in which you heated the cream/vanilla, and heat again until it thickens, stirring as you go.  Remove from heat once thickened.  (This will happen really quickly.  Note, if you miss it and find it separates, you can often save it by adding a splash more cream and whisking vigorously until it smooths out again).

Set this aside to cool.  You can store it in the fridge overnight, press plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard to stop it developing a skin.

Sponge Cake
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tbsp.  butter (lightly salted)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

This is not the original sponge cake recipe.  I wanted a smaller cake, and this worked better for the ratios I envisaged than the original.

Beat eggs in large mixing bowl for 4-5 minutes, until light yellow and creamy. (I did this by hand, but if you are sensible, use a mixer) 

Add sugar, beat another 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir in.

Sift dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture. Stir to combine.

Heat milk and butter in a pan on low heat just until butter is melted. Add to above mixture and beat to combine.

Pour into a greased and floured medium round cake pan.

Bake at 160 until done. (Springy centre, toothpick inserted comes out clean).  This will take 40 minutes or so, depending on your oven.  Let stand 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack and cooling completely.


400ml Cream.

Did I mention you need more cream?  I whipped 1 1/2 cups, was enough to do the filling on this size cake comfortably. Needs to be very thickly whipped, close to turning into butter (but not quite there)

350gm Marzipan.
Green food colouring
Red food colouring
Icing sugar (for dusting surfaces when keneading/rolling)

I cheated here, bought premade marzipan.  Added gel food colouring to it and kneaded it until the colour was evenly distributed.  Rolled out between sheets of plastic wrap.

Cut your cooled sponge into three layers.

Spread base layer with jam, then with pastry cream (you need 2 layers of pastry cream, so only use half of it here).

Place another layer on top, and spread the rest of the pastry cream over it.

Using about 2/3 of the whipped cream, mound up the top of the cake to produce a round, and to cover the edges all the way around the cake.

Cover the mound with the final layer of sponge, and use the remaining cream to provide a thin layer of cream over the entire cake again.

Cover with rolled out green marzipan, and tuck the edges in, cutting off the excess around the base.  Form excess into leaves/decoration if you want.  Decorate centre (leaves and a flower appears to be the classic approach).


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daring Cooks, May 2013

Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute... I went for something slightly different, with chicken tenderloins in a mushroom/onion/sundried tomato case, with feta, manuka smoked ham and a puff pastry shell. Oh, and I candied up some persimmon in pastry for a sweet.
 Simple really, one takes a puff pastry case, lays a couple slices of ham into it.  To make 2 pastries, I blitzed half a brown onion, 50gm sundried tomato, and 2 small flat mushrooms in a blender, and spread onto the sliced ham.  A layer of feta cheese, and topped with chicken tenderloins (2 per case).  Folded into the above rectangles, and baked for 25 minutes, ends up looking like...


 Or this.
I also diced a ripe persimmon, dropped it into another sheet of puff pastry, sprinkled with brown sugar, and folded it up.  Dessert!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nøgne Ø: Sunturnbrew

This beer is divine.  If you can read the print on the label below, you will see that it is a peat smoked barley wine, aged in bourbon barrels.  It comes in a very little bottle, 250ml, but that is to the good. M and I shared one, and while we would have happily drunk more, we each had enough to get a handle on how good this beer is.  Very, very good.  The colour is a deep reddish brown, the peat smoke really comes through well, both on the nose and in the mouth.  There is that thick mouthfeel that you get from punchy strong beers, and the aftertaste is pleasant, with the bourbon aging coming through well.  Punchy, at 11%. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Quince Paste

Quince paste is dead easy.  You should make it.  Right now.  Here is how.  Take as many quinces as you want, say 1 kg of them.  rub the fuzz off their skins, core and roughly chop them.  Add them to a large pot with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup lemon juice, and boil for about 1/2 an hour.  Let cool a bit, then push through a coarse sieve, to get rid of the harder bits.  Ok. Prep done.  Photo time.

Now, weigh what you have.  Add that, with an equal weight of sugar, to a pot.  Cook it on moderate heat, stirring every few minutes (or more often, really, you could do well to just stir constantly), until it is as dark as you want it.  This might only take half an hour, if you like pale quince paste.  It might take an hour, if you want it dark and intense.  I do.  Don't give up though, it is delicious.  Eventually, it will look like this.  Now you can eat it.  

Once the above has cooled, I cut it into squares, and wrap in glad wrap. It keeps for ages (read: months) in the fridge, but you could also freeze it, if that is your thing.  Defrosts without issue.  I'd keep mine in the fridge until next quince season though, without worrying.

The pot you use will be sticky, but that is ok, just soak it.  It will clean up fine.