Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Fraisier

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

This month's challenge looked amazing. Ihad seen cakes like this before in bakeries, but never thought how they were accomplished. Thanks to Jana, now I know!

Start with a chiffon cake, which will be split in half. Yum... Light, airy, and not too sweet.
Then make pastry cream. This is actually a whipped cream substitute made with tofu which was blended with the soy pastry cream I made...Get together the cake, cream and the other components you will need: simple syrup and fruit. Traditionally, fraisier is made with strawberries. (Fraise...) I added blueberries to the mix, too. And don't forget your springform pan lined with plastic wrap.

Assembly was so easy, my two year old did it!! (Ok, she just helped... best sous chef ever!)

First wet the bottom layer of chiffon cake with the simple syrup.

Then arrange halved strawberries around the edge of the pan, cut sides facing out. Add blueberries if you want...
Pipe (or in my case, squeeze!) cream around the berries, essentially holding them in place. Then add a layer of cream on top of the cake.

Put more fruit on top of the pastry cream, This will then be covered with the second layer of chiffon cake.

Soak the top layer of cake with more simple syrup.

Wrap the whole cake in the plastic wrap, let it set in the fridge for at least four hours.
I topped the cake with more berries and some colored sugar sprinkles. The pastry cream didn't set up as firmly as I had hoped, but I was still very pleased with the way the cake looked!

And, more importantly than the look, the taste of the cake was amazing! I could eat this cake every day! All of us, including my parents, loved the way it turned out. As long as my dad doesn't know that the filling was made with tofu, I think he will go on loving it! (He knows it was non-dairy. We just didn't point out the whole tofu thing. Safer that way.)

Thank you, Jana, for this fun, beautiful and delicious challenge! I can't wait to make this one again! If you want to give it a try, here is the recipe.

If you want to see what fabulous creations the other Daring Bakers came up with, look here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daring to do it: Handmade Noodles

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for SpƤtzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

I live in the best neighborhood ever. When Baby Girl was born the neighbors got together and made a schedule to provide dinners for us. As much as I love to cook, it was SO appreciated to have the chance to not worry about timing and being in the kitchen. I felt badly, though, since we have dietary restrictions in our family. Because of the vegetarian and Kosher limits, many of the meals we were gifted with were pasta based. Which is fabulous, as we all like pasta, especially Little Girl! But then this challenge was posted... More pasta... Yummy, but possibly a bit of overkill! What was I to do? It was time to be a little creative...

The first dish I made was gnocchi. I love gnocchi. I love potatoes, so what could be bad about potato pasta dumplings? I have actually made gnocchi before, so I didn't really rely on a recipe. Mashed potatoes, seasonings and whole wheat flour, mixed together until it "felt right." (Proportions? Measurements? Who knows!) Little Girl helped me roll the dough into snakes, and then we cut them into pillows and used a fork to give them the traditional gnocchi look. The cooked gnocchi made a great lunch dressed with garlic butter and shredded cheese.Even with the vast amount of pasta we had been eating, I was really intrigued by one of the recipes Staph provided - spatzle (spaetzle?). I had heard of spatzle before, but hadn't known what it really was. It looked like a good, quick and yummy version of pasta. But more pasta? Well, me being me, I decided that I was going to make it, but not quite as given. Introducing chocolate spaetzle! I replace part of the flour with cocoa powder, and used cinnamon and sugar as the seasoning, but otherwise left the recipe alone. And instead of the breadcrumb "dressing," I used graham crackers (and topped it with chocolate sauce...!). Yes, it was still pasta, but it was dessert! I was excited about it, and the leftovers didn't last long!
I thought that would be it for me for this month. Two recipes for the month more than covered the "requirement" for my participation. But the egg pasta looked too good to pass up. So dinner for the last night before posting was handmade egg pasta with roasted veggies. The dough came together very well and very easily - it was done with my right hand while I held a fussy five week old Baby Girl in my left hand. (Oh, yeah, I am left handed...) Then Little Girl helped me roll the dough out. So it was a family affair! The noodles were so good! I commented to Hubby as we sat down to eat that the house smelled like fresh pasta... And Little Girl came back for seconds. And thirds. And fourths, I think!

Steph, this was a really exciting challenge! I love the freedom we had to explore the world of handmade noodles, and it was a lot of fun to see what our fellow Daring Cooks came up with. If you want to see for yourself, take a look here.