Saturday, April 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Savarin

I know I have said it before, and I am pretty certain I will say it again, but I really love being a part of the Daring Kitchen.  It is so wonderful to be in a community where people want to work together and ave a good time.  Last month it was brought to the community's attention that the host for the April Daring Baker's challenge had gone MIA, and we were at risk for not having a challenge to do.  There were a bunch of suggestions offered by Bakers, and then one stepped up and offered to prepare and host a challenge with only a couple of weeks time to research, prepare and coordinate it.  Having hosted a challenge, I can tell you this is not a small undertaking!  Please, no matter who you are, stop by Natalia's blog and give her huge cyber-hugs for such an amazing job, especially in such a short amount of time!! 
Ok, now on to the regular post...!
This month's Daring Baker's challenge was something I had never heard of, but not something that was entirely new to me.  It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and really yummy!
Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenges us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes!

I had never heard of Savarin before, but I have used a cake-soak for a plain cake, so the idea of it wasn't too intimidating.  The cake, though, kind of was!  The savarin recipe Natalia gave us was for a very plain yeasted cake.  One with a sponge, lots of egg yolks added one at a time, various rises...  then the baking, cooling, soaking and filling!  The hardest part of getting ready to make this challenge was finding the time to do it all!  Here are all of the steps, as best as I could capture them.

The sponge:
Mixing the dough:
The egg yolks:
Trying for the elastic,thready stage:
And now for the window pane test:
First rise:
Folding and shaping:
Next rise:
Proofed and ready to bake:
Out of the oven, risen quite nicely!
Cutting off the top - er, bottom!- of the cake to make a flat surface:
Making a vanilla cake soak (from my favorite Mark Bittman cookbook):
Soaking the cake:
Glazed with a simple powdered sugar/soy milk glaze, filled with dairy-free chocolate pudding, dusted with powdered sugar:
Sliced and served:
My mother-in-law hit the nail on the head when she said this tasted a lot like a chocolate eclair.  And that is totally a good thing.  My biggest complaint was that the cake soak did not soak all the way through the cake - the top and bottom were saturated, but the middle of the cake was still rather dry.  (The plain cake was very much like a light brioche, which is yummy, but rather plain.)   Were I to have the time, I can see making this again.  It was delicious, and it is so versatile!  It is just very labor, and time, intensive, and I am not sure I would go for it again without a special occasion.  That being said, should a special occasion arise, this is an AMAZING treat!
Thank you so much, Natalia, for stepping up and teaching us about this wonderful dessert!  I an in awe of the hard work you put in, and of the generous support you offered all month long.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the Daring Bakers created!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Daring to do it: No Bones About It

This month's challenge was hosted by a blogger I like.  I like her food, I like her style, I like her.  Sadly, though, I didn't find a way to "like" this challenge enough to do it...

 For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine.

Yeah. I wasn't going to de-bone a chicken.  I could have done it - we were in Florida for Passover, and my parents don't have a vegetarian kitchen.  And there was a whole, bone-in chicken in the freezer which I was welcomed to use.  I just couldn't do it... 
I tried to think of a vegetarian alternative...  Some way to take something with structure, remove the "bones" and stuff it.  But I couldn't think or anything.  And then it got to be the 13th of the month, and that meant that time was up to try something. 
So, sorry, Lisa!  I totally get how this is an amazing challenge, and an awesome skill for Daring Cooks to learn, I was just too much of a wimp. 
Take a look here to see the delectable dishes the braver Cooks created!