27 March 2011

Daring Bakers rising to the occassion

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

This month I got to play with yeast, egg whites, chocolate and cardamom. All things I love to eat and work with. My eaters this month were Monucs and the Vic. Chorale. Joint concerts mean joint rehearsals which means that snacks are required. I'm also planning on taking a batch of cheesecake brownies.

Below is the recipe I used. I noticed on the first one that I had spread the filling too close to the edge and it leaked out when rolling. Yum! The second one I didn't fill as close to the edge and it rolled up much cleaner. You can see the difference in the pictures below. The top one has the cleaner roll.

Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

For the yeast coffee cake dough:
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
1⁄4 cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar 
3⁄4 teaspoon (5 g / 1⁄4 oz.) salt 
1 package (2 1⁄4 teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
1 tsp ground cardamom
3⁄4 cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
1⁄4 cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature) 
1⁄2 cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature 
2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites at room temperature
 1⁄4 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla 
1⁄2 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped walnuts 
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar 
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1⁄2 cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. 
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. 

Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 1⁄2 cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the 1⁄2 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes: Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 1⁄2 cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 1⁄2 cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

14 March 2011

Peekaboo I see you

Any guess what lies under the tea towels?

07 March 2011

Beef Wellington

When I made this last year you could smell it halfway round the building. As my old job required working shifts, I liked to get creative in what I ate. Reheated pasta only goes so far with me. So when the new season of Masterchef started I was ecstatic. New recipes to try. New takes on old recipes. 

One of the challenges when they were going from the top 50 to the top 20 was beef wellington. Having always wanted to make it but never getting up the guts to actually do it, I put my Daring Cook hat on and decided to give it a try. This was actually a challenge for the Daring Cooks over a year ago but I never got around to making it.... This recipe is taken from the Masterchef Australia website.

Here we go!


2 cups (300g) plain flour 
2 eggs 
2½ cups (625ml) milk 
1 tablespoon melted butter 
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
50g butter, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g small beef bones 
2 eschallots, thinly sliced
6 black peppercorns
4 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic, bruised
1 bay leaf
80ml port
200ml red wine
500ml veal stock
80ml veal glace
40g chopped butter

Mushroom filling
80g dried porcini mushrooms 
2 tlbs (40ml) olive oil
30g butter, chopped
2 eschallots, finely chopped
200g swiss brown mushrooms, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Beef Fillet
500g beef fillet 
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 large sheet puff pastry approx (30 X 32cm)
Eggwash: 3 egg yolks mixed with a pinch of salt
4-5 slices Iberico Ham

For the crepes, sift flour into a bowl, add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs and a quarter of the milk. Whisk vigorously from the middle incorporating the flour, add a little more milk and continue to whisk to form a smooth thick batter, whisk in the remaining milk and melted butter to form a loose smooth batter the consistency of thick cream.  Set aside to rest for 15 minutes. Stir in herbs.

Heat a little chopped butter in a large non-stick frying pan, Ladle some of the crepe batter into the pan and quickly swirl around to cover the base to make a crepe about 25cm in diameter. Cook until the crepe is a slight golden brown, turn over and cook until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat using the remaining mixture. You must have at least 4 crepes.

Meanwhile, start the sauce. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place a non stick roasting pan onto the stove top over a moderate heat, add oil and the beef bones, colour evenly, place into the oven for 20 minutes until caramelized and golden. Remove from the oven and tip the bones into a colander to drain away excess fat.

For the mushroom filling. Place dried mushrooms in a bowl and add just enough boiling water to cover, stand 15 minutes, drain. Rinse under running water to remove grit. 
Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add eschallots, fresh mushrooms and garlic, cook until soft and golden. Stir in re-hydrated mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Tip the mushrooms into a colander allow to cool to room temperature. Process mushroom mixture, parsley, tarragon and mustard in a food processor until finely chopped but not a paste.

For the beef fillet. Season the beef fillet with salt and pepper. Heat a lightly greased large frying pan, add beef and cook until all sides are well browned. Set aside to cool. Brush with the Dijon mustard.

To assemble the Beef Wellington. Preheat oven to 200C.
Place a 40cm length of baking paper on bench top. Lay the Iberico ham slices slightly overlapping onto paper. Place an even layer of mushroom mixture over the ham slices, then place the beef fillet on top. Roll over to encase the beef tightly. Square off two sides of each crepe. Lay crepes, slightly overlapping on bench top, top with beef roll and roll to encase tightly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Rest in the freezer for 10 minutes, making sure it is cool and firm making it easier to handle. Remove plastic wrap from beef roll, place beef roll in the centre of the pastry sheet. Cut four small corners out of the pastry so it creates a large thick cross shape, ensuring it is long enough on all sides to enclose the fillet completely. Carefully lift side flaps of pastry up over the beef roll so they just overlap, trimming as necessary. Seal with egg wash. Carefully lift remaining pastry flaps, so they just overlap, trimming as necessary. Seal with egg wash. Place on a baking paper-lined non stick roasting tray, making sure that the seam is at the bottom. With extra pastry, cut a 6cm disc and place in center of beef roll. Cut a 1cm whole in top of pastry for air.. Egg wash the top and sides evenly removing excess egg wash with the pastry brush, place in freezer for 10 minutes to cool the pastry. Repeat eggwash and freezer process. Bake for about 35 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the fillet inside. It should be around 46-52C or just warm to the top lip for a perfect medium rare. Allow the beef wellington to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile finish the sauce. Place the drained bones into a large saucepan add the sliced eschallots, peppercorns, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and season with salt. Cook, stirring until eschallots are golden. Add the port and red wine and reduce by two thirds. Add the veal stock and glace. Bring to the boil and skim away any scum or impurities that rise to the surface. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until reduced to a sauce consistency; season to taste. Strain the sauce through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean saucepan to remove any sediment. The sauce should be viscous enough to sit on the plate well without being too runny but not too thick to be sticky, you may need to reduce it further after straining. Then slowly whisk in enough small cubes of butter to add shine.

To serve, carve beef wellington and serve with the sauce.