September 27, 2009

Vols-au-Vent & Pâte Feuilletée with the Daring Bakers

This was my first challenge with the Daring Bakers and it definitely wasn't for the faint of heart..we were tasked to make pâte feuilletée from scratch and use the dough to form vols-au-vent. You've probably seen vols-au-vent in your local supermarket, you just didn't know it. Pepperidge Farm makes a version called "Puff Pastry Shells".

Pâte Feuilletée belongs to the laminated dough family, which essentially means a water-based dough is layered with a block of cold butter. Croissants and danish are other examples of laminated doughs. To achieve the "puffiness" and height that is synonomous with puff pastry the dough is folded, or "turned", repeatedly with the butter so that you end up with lots of alternating layers. Once the cold dough hits a hot oven, steam is created from the water in the dough/butter evaporating. This causes the dough to lift and rise.

The pastry didn't rise as high as I would have liked, which I think was because I rushed the process. Unfortunately, good pastry requires a lot of patience, of which I didn't really have. Nevertheless, the pastry still tasted good! I filled the vols-au-vent with chicken pot pie filling and made mini tartlets with heirloom tomatoes, basil and parmesan with some of the leftover dough.

Looking forward to next month's challenge!

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

September 26, 2009

Sydney Foods

This post has nothing to do with baking but I wanted to share some memorable eats from a recent trip to Sydney. It's a beautiful harbor city with lots of great food, similar to San Francisco. My favorites from the trip were breakfast offerings at bills Darlinghurst and the baked potato wedges with sweet chili and sour cream at Opera Bar in Circular Quay.

A work colleague from Sydney recommended bills as a breakfast must-see and she was spot on. bills Darlinghurst is one of three restaurants owned by Aussie chef Bill Granger. It's located on a quiet street corner in the very chic and trendy Darlinghurst area of Sydney. As soon as you walk in you see a large communal table loaded with tons of magazines that patrons can browse through. What could be better? The breakfast offerings are some of the best I've ever tasted. The delicious organic scrambled eggs are smooth, creamy and so fluffy. The sweet corn fritters with roasted tomato, spinach and bacon are to die for. And don't miss the unforgettable ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter. To quote one of my favorite bands, Depeche Mode, "I just can't get enough"!!

Sydneysiders really love their sweet chili with sour cream. You'll find it as a potato chip or cracker flavor throughout town. I'd never heard of this flavor combination before but as soon as I tried it I was a complete convert. My first taste was at the Opera Bar in Circular Quay, nestled between the famed Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. There, they serve huge paprika-flecked baked potato wedges with the sweet chili sauce and sour cream as the dipping sauce. The sweet and spicy of the chili sauce goes beautifully with the cool and tangy sour cream. Absolute BLISS!

September 13, 2009

Onesie Cookie Favors for a Baby Shower

A work colleague recently commissioned iced sugar cookie favors for an upcoming baby shower she's hosting. She doesn't know if the baby is a boy or a girl so I suggested a white onesie with a little yellow duckie on the front. I'd seen the idea online using a lamb and cherries. I think the cookies turned out really cute. These are the extras I had, which have a different color ribbon than the ones used for the order. For those I used ivory satin ribbon with "le bébé" (French for baby) printed on it.

The cookie is a vanilla sugar cookie frosted with royal icing. Royal icing is made with powdered sugar, meringue powder and water mixed together really well. I used a thicker consistency to outline the cookie and a thinner frosting to "flood" (or fill) inside the lines. The funny thing about royal icing is you have to keep it covered in the mixing bowl with a damp paper towel otherwise it dries really quickly, but as soon as you put it on a cookie it takes at least 24 hours to dry completely.

I'm not much of an artist but I'm quite happy with how the little duckie turned out. I think royal icing is a much more forgiving medium to draw with than a pen or pencil.

September 6, 2009

Strawberry Cream Cake for Labor Day

Labor Day usually marks the end of summer for most of the country, but not here in the San Francisco Bay Area. There's a famous quote that says, "the coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco." That pretty much sums it all up. For those of you who've never been to this excellent city before, avoid it like the plague in July and August. Come back September through November, that's when our Indian summer normally lasts and you get the fantastic weather. After a few months of gray clouds and endless miles of fog it's a welcome sight to see the sun shining.

My brother hosted a Labor Day BBQ today and I brought this strawberry cream cake to serve on the dessert table. Most of my relatives prefer desserts that aren't too sweet and this cake is the perfect choice. This cake is perfect for summer, especially if you've got some sweet and juicy strawberries in season. The recipe is a real winner from the folks at America's Test Kitchen. Not only is it visually stunning, but it tastes as good as it looks.

The cake is almost like a combination of sponge and chiffon, just a lot easier to make. Halved strawberries line the perimeter of each cake layer and macerated, chopped berries cover the inside. The frosting consists of heavy cream whipped together with cream cheese and a little bit of sugar and vanilla. The cream cheese adds a slight tang and also gives the whipped cream some nice structure.

Hope this cake heralds the start of a great Indian summer!

September 5, 2009

Lime and Raspberry Macarons

Wanted to try two new macaron flavors: lime and raspberry. I filled the raspberry ones with white chocolate ganache mixed with raspberry puree. I normally don't like white chocolate,and this is the first time I've used it in macarons, but with the fruit flavoring it came out alright. I'm in search of a recipe for raspberry marmalade that's not too sweet that can be used as a filling. I really LOVE the bright green color of the lime macarons. This won't be a surprise to some of my friends who know that it's one of my favorite colors...especially when paired with navy blue. I added white sprinkles to the shells , which I think really pops against the bright green. I made lime curd using some of the yolks left over after separating the whites for the macaron shells. Mixed the chilled curd with meringue buttercream so the filling is tart with a velvety texture.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...