Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
I've made doughnuts several times before, both cake doughnuts and yeast doughnuts. I must say, I prefer the cake style as they taste the closest to old fashioned sugar doughnuts from Timmy's, my favourite dairy filled Tim Hortons treat. If they didn't have old fashioned sugar, my next choice was either a chocolate dip or the kind with sprinkles on it. When I saw that the challenge for this month was yeast doughnuts, I knew I had to recreate a dairy free version of a chocolate dip and sprinkle doughnut.
The recipe was pretty straight forward, even though it requires using yeast. I get nervous when using yeast because I worry that I will not let it proof enough, or let it proof too long and my treats will be ruined. This time it worked! Making the dough was really easy. I used soy milk instead of regular milk to melt the shortening, but I let it get a little too hot and had to wait a while before I added the yeast to the mix or else I would have killed the rising effect of the yeast.
When the dough comes out of the mixer, it was really sticky. After it rested for a while, it was still sticky! It didn't seem to matter though, since I was able to roll and cut them.
Instead of deep frying, I pan fried the doughnuts in a shallow layer of oil in a frying pan. I've used this method before when making doughnuts and beavertails, and it hasn't failed yet. I don't like the idea of using a whole jug of oil and then chucking it! Once the doughnuts had spent their time in the old and had turned golden brown and puffy, I let them rest for a while as I prepared the glazes. I didn't use a recipe for the glazes. I combined icing sugar and soy milk in a bowl until it was the right spreading consistency for the vanilla glaze and I melted chocolate chips with a bit of oil for the chocolate glaze. I dunked the cooled doughnuts in the glazes and then rolled them in sprinkles.
Overall this challenge was fun. Paul remains my #1 doughnut fryer and the doughnuts were delicious! I would definitely make them again, even though they probably aren't the healthiest treat. It is nice to be able to indulge in a doughnut ever now and then, even though I can't get them through the Timmys drive thru!

Soy Milk 1.5 cup
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup(can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.)
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp.
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)


1.Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
2.Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
4.Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
5.Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
6.Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
7.Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
8.On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
9.Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
10.Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
11.Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
12.Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Piece Montee

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
This month I was challenged to make a Piece Montee. You might know that dessert by it's other long French name, croquembouche. When I saw this challenge I freaked. The giant cone of cream puffs seemed impossible for me to make. I imagined days of making cream puffs and the long time it would take to create a sky high cone of caramel glazed treats. My fear made me procrastinate until the last possible day, which happened to be the hottest day of the year! I was standing in my kitchen stirring a bubbling pot of hot caramel while it was 35 degrees centigrade outside!
Once I actually read through the recipes for the piece montee, I started calming down. It wasn't that hard! I had to make a pastry cream to fill the puffs, pate a choux and a caramel glaze. Not too difficult! I started by making the pastry cream, chocolate of course, the night before I made the puffs. I followed the recipe and I substituted soy milk for the whole milk in the recipe. I was a bit nervous that the cream wouldn't turn out since I only had low fat soy milk on hand, but it still ended up being quite thick and tasty!
The next day I started making the pate a choux. No substitutions were needed for this recipe, everything is dairy free! Making the pate a choux reminded me of making play dough with my mom when I was younger. You know it's done when it pulls away from the side of the pot. Luckily, the pate a choux tastes a lot better than the salty mess that is home made play dough! The recipe doesn't say this, but stirring the eggs into the hot flour mixture counts as a work out! My arms were sore by the time I was done incorporating the eggs. The mixture gets quite stiff after the addition of the last egg!
When it came time to pipe out the cream puffs, I thought I was making them quite small. It turns out that the little blobs of pastry turn into gigantic airy puffs once the hot air hits them! Next time I will pipe them really small so that I get normal sized puffs. After the puffs had cooled I started filling them with the pastry cream. I used a medium sized round tip on my pastry bag and jammed the tip into the bottom of the puff. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough cream to fill my gigantic cream puffs, but I had exactly enough! I placed the finished puffs in the fridge and started to make my caramel.
The caramel glaze only has two ingredients- sugar and a tiny bit of lemon juice. I ended up making two batches since my first one got way too dark and tasted like smoke. Nasty. Now I know that when you set out to make caramel, take it off the heat a bit before it's done since it continues to cook for a bit afterwards. I used my burnt caramel to make little sugar corkscrews, so it wasn't a total loss. The second batch of caramel worked perfectly. Instead of dunking the puffs in the caramel like the recipe states, I spooned a bit onto the bottoms of the puffs and built my pyramid that way. I figured I'd be better protected from horrible hot caramel burns that way, and it worked!
Once the croquembouche was assembled I drizzled the remainder of the sugar all over and arranged my sugar corkscrews. When it came time to rip the croquembouche apart I was a little leery. Would this taste good? The answer was yes! It was really good! Would I make it again? Maybe not for any old dessert, but if something special was going on or someone requested one I would definitely do it. It wasn't as hard as I thought and it was very easy to make dairy free!

Chocolate Pastry Cream
1 cup soy milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

1. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
2. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
3. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
4. Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.

Pate a Choux

¾ cup water
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.
It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.
Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Caramel Glaze
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Traditional British Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. Suet is beef fat, so I was pretty grossed out when I first read this challenge. There was no way I was going to bake using raw beef fat. I'm sure it provides great flavour, but I really didn't want to go to the hassle of trying to locate suet at the grocery store or go to the butcher to request a hunk of fat. Plus, I'm sure it's not a healthy option. Since I had decided to not use suet, I had to set out to find a traditional pudding recipe that was beef fat free!
For the purposes of this challenge, pudding refers to a dessert that is cooked in a pudding mold (or in my case a glass bowl) using steam. I have never baked a dessert using steam before, so I was pretty nervous about it not turning out. I chose a pudding recipe that is dairy free as well as chocolaty! I used a recipe from a website called The Pudding Club. I guess puddings are pretty popular, since there were many pudding websites/recipes to choose from.
I chose a recipe called Very Chocolate Pudding and it was very easy to make. I had to weigh all of the ingredients, since the site is British and that's how they roll. I followed the recipe exactly, except for the fact that I didn't have self raising flour. I used the same amount of all purpose flour and added 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder to help my pudding rise. I mixed up the batter and poured it into my medium Pyrex glass bowl. The batter was pretty yummy, so I had high hopes for the finished product.
Since this was my first pudding, I didn't have a dedicated steamer. I had to McGuyver my own. I used my giant stock pot with three custard cups at the bottom to keep my bowl elevated from the bottom of the pot. I filled the pot with water so that it came halfway up the pudding bowl. I covered the bowl tightly with aluminum foil and wrapped it with string to make a handle so I could easily lift the bowl out of the pot. Once the water came to a full boil, I lowered the bowl in and hoped for the best! It was a long hour and a half wait to see if my first pudding would be a flop or a success.
I lifted the bowl out of the water and ripped off the aluminum foil and was pleased to see a dense chocolate cake that had risen quite a bit! I flipped the pudding out of the bowl and let it cool as we finished supper. To complete the pudding I decided to make a chocolate sauce, since you can never have enough chocolate! I used a recipe from all recipes that is simply called Chocolate Sauce. The sauce is dairy free and is almost fat free, which is a nice bonus. You can also use it for ice cream, hot chocolate and chocolate milk! It makes quite a bit, so I placed the rest in a jar and it now sits in my fridge waiting to jazz up some other desserts. I did make a small modification to the recipe. I used 1 cup of sugar instead of 1 2/3 cups and 1 cup of water instead of 1 1/4 cups. I like chocolate sauces and things like that to be a little less sweet, and this did the trick.
Overall my first British pudding was a success. I really thought that when I lifted the bowl out of my homemade steamer that I would find a sloppy chocolate mess, but it actually turned out nicely. It was really yummy and not that hard to make. The only downside was that it had to steam for an hour and a half and it probably wouldn't be that fun to do during the summer time. I probably wouldn't make a pudding this way again, but it was fun to try!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.
I was pretty excited when I read the February challenge and saw that it was Tiramisu, but a little nervous at the same time. I knew that tiramisu was a creamy dessert, so making it dairy free would be a challenge. I was surprised to see that dairy didn't play as huge of a role as I had thought. I didn't make mascarpone cheese, which as I read further, wasn't a huge part of the dessert. Only 1/3 of a cup was required, so I skipped it and it wasn't missed. Instead of whipped cream I used Nutriwhip.
This recipe did take a long time to make. I made the pastry cream and zabaglione on one day, the lady fingers the next and then I made the Nutriwhip and assembled the tiramisu the next day. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.
Making the pastry cream and zabaglione was pretty simple. Combine the ingredients, heat on the stove, stir until thick. The lady fingers were pretty easy as well. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make.
I thought the tiramisu was pretty yummy, but the coffee and Marsala wine were a little too overpowering for me. The tiramisu also tasted a lot better three days after it was made. My favourite part was the lady fingers. Would I make it again? Probably not, but it was fun to try!

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk (I used soy milk)

Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Lady Fingers
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Whipped Cream
Two cups of whipped cream. (I used Nutriwhip)

To make the Tiramisu
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered. Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Apple Strudel Muffins.

After promising Paul that I would make muffins all Christmas break, I finally got around to it tonight. The day before going back to work! We spent our Christmas being pretty lazy, and it was wonderful! I finally got my act together and made some muffins so that Paul would have a breakfast that is easy to take to work.
After reading over a couple of recipes on Allrecipes, apple strudel muffins caught my eye. I love apples and cinnamon together, so this recipe had to be good!
While I was making the muffins I realized that there were no liquids other than vanilla and eggs listed in the ingredients. I must have read the ingredients list a million times to make sure that I wasn't missing a key liquid ingredient.
The recipe is pretty straight forward. Mix the wet ingredients, add apples, throw in the dry stuff and stir. I used one and a half peeled Granny Smith apples to get 1 1/2 cups of chopped apples. I also used margarine instead of butter to make the muffins dairy free. Once all of the ingredients were mixed together, the batter was more of a dough than a loose muffin mixture. I was a little nervous. I'm used to having muffin batter resemble pancake batter, but this was like play dough. Instead of spooning the mixture in, I pressed the dough into the muffin pans and hoped for the best. I sprinkled the strudel on top and placed them in the oven.
Half way through baking my house smelled great, like French toast and apple pie all in one. We couldn't resist testing out a muffin after supper. They are more cakey than muffiny, but they are so good. The apple bakes down and becomes soft and the strudel topping becomes crispy and delicious. I can't wait to try one of these muffins for breakfast at work!