Sunday, December 5, 2010

Daring Baker's Challenge - Crostata

Man! I am so behind on my food postings! I always make the challenges on time, but post them late. Anyways, this was the Daring Kitchen Crostata challenge. I hadn't even really known what a crostata was...perhaps a tostada? But I found out it was a fruit tart/pie. My church group was having a pre-Thanksgiving feast, so I thought it would be a perfect time to debut this dish. I spent 1 evening making the dough, and then the next evening (the night of the dinner) rolling out the dough into a pie pan, loading them up with different raspberry jam (red and black), and then laying a lattice framework over it. I baked it and excitedly took it out of the oven. We had some heavy cream in our fridge, so I whipped it up into a sweetened whipped cream. I was finally all set to head to the party! I placed the crostata and whipped cream into a roasting pan for protection and drove off.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Unfortunately, crostatas are not meant for transport across the city of San Francisco, along bumpy and hilly roads. So, my poor crostata ended up spilling over and looking like a hot mess, literally! :( Luckily, my dough held up and didn't become soggy. My friends were also so gracious and said it tasted delicious!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Winning Hearts and Minds Cake

I first read about this cake in Molly Wizenberg's book "A Homemade Life" (highly recommend!!!!) and I knew I had to try it. She baked dozens of this cake in advance, froze it, and served it at her wedding, so I figured there must be something special to this one! I was dying to try it! It looked pretty simple, so I prepared it on a crazy busy day for a friend's housewarming party. (the recipe looked pretty easy) I used Valhrona chocolate and fancy Irish butter, which the recipe called for.

Unfortunately, the cake was a fail. :( I ended up cooking it for longer than the recipe called for, but the cake still seemed too gooey and butter seemed to drip out of it. I ended up asking Tinger for a picture of her cake (same one), and hers looked much more well done. So, I think I just didn't cook it enough, and perhaps something I did increased the required baking time. I guess this chocolate cake warrants another shot.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First Daring Cook's Challenge: Souffle

I usually try to time my monthly challenges with an event or gathering, just so I won't be eating dozens of doughnuts and souffles on my own. Luckily, my roommate's birthday tea coincided with the souffle challenge. I was so excited to try my hand at souffles! Given that many guests were bringing sweets, I decided to experiment with a savory souffle. After searching, I came across Ina Garten's cheddar and spinach souffle, which sounded easy and yummy!

Of course, we all held our breath for the big question...Did it rise?! Unfortunately, it didn't get the height that I wanted; however, it was tasty and totally hit the spot. Maybe next time I'll try putting parchment on the inside of the dish. It did encourage me that chefs on Top Chef: Just desserts were commenting on how hard souffles are to me. So, I am not the only one. I did love the concept, so this won't be the last time for souffles!

Spinach and Cheddar Souffle (from Ina Garten)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks, at room-temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated aged Cheddar cheese, lightly packed
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 6 to 8-cup souffle dish (6 1/2 to 7 1/2 inches in diameter by 3 1/2 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, the nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Cheddar, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and the spinach and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk one quarter of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

First Daring Baker's Challenge - Donuts!

I finished my first daring baker's challenge! It was a late submission because I was timing it with my work's Halloween baking contest. I enjoyed this challenge because it definitely got me out of my comfort zone and into deep frying and candy thermometers. People often commented about the square shape. This was done due to practical reasons. I wanted to get the most donuts for the dough (since it was for a contest), and I didn't have round cutters readily available. Hence easy square shapes!

I am also just starting this blog, so it's a work in progress. Stay tuned for upgrades. :)