Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Crostata

This month for Daring Bakers the challenge was to make a crostata. A crostata is basically just the Italian version of pie. It can be made in a tart pan or made free-form. The filling was up to us but the host showed versions filled with jam and with pastry cream. Well for me either of those sound fantastic - especially the pastry cream version. Problem was the timing meant this would be a perfect dessert to make for my wife's birthday and she has pretty much the opposite taste of me when it comes to dessert.

I decided to compromise. I would attempt to make a chocolate and pastry cream version. I
made half of the pastry cream recipe in the challange and poured it in the bottom and poured some chocolate ganache on the top. I made the crust, ganache, and
pastry cream all with a little bit of orange zest added since I think orange goes well with chocolate. I wasn't really sure how it would work baking the ganache but it turned out incredibly. The chocolate was just the right consistency and the pastry cream helped offset the strong chocolate flavor just enough. My wife and I both loved it.

This months challenge was hosted by Simona at briciole. Simona has an Italian cooking blog ( she is an Italian woman living in California) that looks fantastic. An interesting thing that I have not seen before - her blog posts all include an MP3 of her pronouncing all the Italian words in the blog. Cool idea for people trying to learn Italian or just if you want
to sound better ordering Italian food.

If you want to try your own crostata here is the challange we used with the recipe for the crust and the pastry cream -Daring Bakers' Crostata Challange.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Daring Bakers: Apple Doughnuts

I have been looking forward to this one. In fact I was thinking if I was to ever take a turn creating a Daring Baker challenge it would be doughnuts. Unfortunately I had scheduled myself to do this towards the end of October and my son and myself ended up getting sick so I missed the deadline for this recipe. I thought about it and decided - who cares about the deadline - I've wanted to make them so I went ahead and made them a week late.

The challenge was doughnuts - any kind you can imagine. You could make cake or yeast doughnuts - they could be plain, decorated, filled... I can't really say there is a doughnut that I don't like but I have always liked a good fried cake. I used to buy one every week at the end of doing my summer paper route - they were still warm when I got it. I did decide to dress it up a little. It is currently apple season here in the US so I thought I would see what I could do by adding some apples. They were really good - little pieces of apple in every bite. They weren't too sweet or too greasy. Being a cake doughnut they are a little heavier than a yeast doughnut but I thought these turned out pretty nice and fluffy for a cake doughnut. My dough was very wet but the recipe said it would be. It was hard to pick them up to fry - I think the key is a lot of flour when rolling out the dough. My only question about the recipe - how do you flip a doughnut hole??? They do not want to turn over.

Thanks to Lori at Butter Me Up for this challenge. I envy her getting to make three different types of doughnuts for the challenge.

Apple Doughnuts
Makes about 15 doughnuts and doughnut holes

  • 2 Apples, peeled, cored, and chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider + more for glaze
  • All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface
  • White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
  • Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
  • Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
  • Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
  • Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
  • Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
  • Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
  • Egg, Large 1
  • Egg Yolk, Large 2
  • Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
  • Powdered (Icing) Sugar 1 cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)
  • Sugar and Cinnamon for topping
  1. In a small sauce pan heat the chopped apples and cider until apples are starting to get soft ( about 10 minutes). Allow to cool.
  2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
  3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the cooked apples over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
  5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
  6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
  7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.
  8. If desired place doughnuts in a cinnamon sugar mixture and toss to coat.
  9. You can make a glaze with 1 cup of powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk, water, or apple cider. The glaze should be fairly thick but line drawn in it with a spoon will smooth out in a few seconds. You can spread the glaze on with a knife or simply dip half of the doughnut in the glaze.