Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Daring Bakers' January, 2014 Challenge: Baumkuchen

For the April Daring Bakers' Challenge, Francijn of "Koken in de Brouwerij". She challenged us all to bake layered cakes in the tradition of Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte (layered cake). We were to follow the Baumkuchen (tree cake) and Schichttorte technique of smearing thin layers of batter on top of each other, and baking them one by one, so creating a layered cake structure. Originally, Baumkuchen is supposed to bake on a big spit and this challenge recipe is a layered cake version. I am very excited as this is my first Bakers' challenge in 2014 and I have been away for a while and can't wait to get back! I have tried a couple Baumkuchen recipes but they always on dry side, this recipe looks amazing, so I am going to try it!

For this amazing Baumkuchen, I follow most of the original recipe and scale it down by one third since my cake pan is a bit smaller, 

you need
  • four large eggs (room temperature and separated)
  • pinch of salt
  • 80 g sugar 
  • 100 g marzipan (crumbled)
  • 134 g softened unsalted butter
  • 38 g butter (room temperature) and more for mold
  • 67 g confectioner's sugar
  • 5 g vanilla powder (suppose to use vanilla sugar)
  • 67 g AP flour (sifted)
  • nappage (see recipe below)
  • dark chocolate glaze

Making this amazing Baumkuchen needs a bit time, patience and preparation. Once you get your batter ready, you need to bake your cake layer by layer. Okay, let's start my Baumkuchen time....


First thing is to preheat your oven to 450 F, grease you cake pan with butter and line it with parchment paper. Beat egg white in a clean dry bowl until foamy, add salt when it become soft peak. Add sugar in a few additions and beat until it become stiff.... about five minutes or so. Hmm my egg whites looks like snow white now....
Have another bowl and crumbled marzipan ready. Beat butter until creamy, add confectioner's sugar, vanilla powder and marzipan. Add egg yolks one at a time and beat it well..... hmm color looks nice!  Unfortunately, my marzipan is not good and kind of dry and time I'll use another brand...

Next step is important, we need to put together our batter. I mix one third of egg white into butter-egg-marzipan mixture, then fold it and flour back to my remaining egg white.  Its important to fold it gently so it won't deflate too much....of course a bit deflation is inevitable!

Now, we are heading to the fun part.... bake our cake in 10 to 12 times to build up lovely layers. First I weight my batter and smear one tenth of my batter by weight in the pan. I baked each layer for about 5 minutes... tell you the truth, kind of labour intensive and need some patience... but worth it.  Make sure you have enough time, so after an hour or so of repeating baking all my batter.....
Wow.... a lovely golden brown Baumkuchen is born! It looks so amazing.... my cake layers look a bit uneven, as I told you guys before, my marzipan a bit dry and coarse, but it still looks great and smellll yummy!  I let my cake sit on a rack to cool down , trim it and wait for the final step.... later!

I am nearly done.... feel so exciting. Just need to re-warm my nappage and cover the top; then re-heat my dark chocolate glaze, pour and spread a thin layer on top and that's it. Hmm... my  Baumkuchen looks really pretty now!  As usual, its better to wait until next day before taste a bite.... but this cake just need to store at room temperature air-tight and it will be fine... I've tried store my previous one in fridge but they turn out to be bone dry! Freezing is okay as long as you wrap it properly. Let me have a sweet dream about Baumkuchen...... yummy...... yummy..... zzzzz

Time for tasting, I have a nice cup of Kusmi Earl Grey ready. Slice it carefully and decorate with a small edible gold foil on a nice plate... hmm almond flavor layers, a hint of orange liquer and dark chocolate making this Baumkuchen taste amazing!  I wonder I should get a bigger cake pan instead of scale down the recipe, because I think I don't have enough Baumkuchen!

Notes and recipe within recipe.....

nappage (glaze)

  • 67 g apricot jam
  • 47 g water
  • 20 g orange liquer (or any liquer you like)
  • heat your jam with water until it melts
  • add in your liquer, keep cooking gently a  bit
  • strain your nappage and you're done

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Gâteau S'mores

S'mores is one of my favorite treats since little, fun, tasty and playful! Me and my best friend were thinking its so so cold this January, some S'mores will definitely help to warm us up, plus a cup of hot chocolate will even make us feel better :)  Of course I would like to have more fun in making S'mores.... so instead of small S'mores, how about a Gâteau S'mores? Sounds like an amazing idea to me, as usual it will be a little bit different from a small S'mores sandwich.  Luckily I have all the ingredients I need to make this fun and tasty cake..... let me grab them right now!

you need
  • graham cracker crumbs 
  • unsalted butter (melteded)
  • vanilla paste and pinch of salt
  • dark chocolate ganache ( I use 72% Valrhona Araguani or you can use any chocolate you prefer)  
  • Swiss meringue

Lets start to make this lovely cake, steps are quite simple. Preheat your oven to 325 F, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, vanilla paste and salt.  Press mixture down on a spring-form pan and baked your crust about 15 mins.  My crust has a nice golden brown color, let it rest until completely cool and I am going to get a cup of tea now! 

Next step is fun, chocolate time.  First thing to do is to line your pan with an acetate ring, let it sits firmly on top of your crust and pan. Have your freshly made chocolate ganache handy, pour it carefully on top, you may need to shake it a bit to get rid of any bubbles.  Let it sit in fridge for a few hours until it completely set, I let mine sit overnite :)

Now we're not too far away from finishing line!  Gently separate spring-form pan and acetate sheet and sit it nicely on your serving plate. See.... my cake looks lovely, you may notice my crust is THICK, just because I love lots of graham crackers crumbs, of course you can use less to make a thin crust.

Now the fun part starts.... have your Swiss meringue ready in your piping bag.... I use a small star tip and pipe little pretty stars on the cake... it looks beautiful and I keep piping.. piping.. piping and piping (your hand may hurt!).  More and more starts now and stars are getting higher and higher and eventually become.....

Yes, that's it.... a mountain!  Snow white and pretty, and that should be enough to go with rest of my cake.  I baked my remaining meringue to little meringue rings... good for snack or with tea :)  Final part.... blow-torch time!! Just torch your meringue to any color you like...of course no burning! Sometimes I feel is kind of dangerous too to let a girl plays fire in kitchen  :)

Ta-da! Wow, finally finished my Gâteau S'mores....looks so pretty! Toasted meringue, amazing ganache and lots of graham cracker crumbs... hmm a perfect treat in this cold cold January, let me go make hot chocolate now!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Pistache Eclairs

Happy New Year to everyone! Time goes by so fast and we're in 2014 already, I had a great holiday time, shopping, sleeping and probably like many ate too much haha!  Still I would love to make some nice treat for myself.... since I am recovering from those big meals, I just make something simple...hmm maybe eclairs, easy to make and taste amazing!  What flavor.... of course my favorite pistachios!!

you need
  • eclairs (4 to 5 inches long)
  • pistache crème au beurre (pistachio buttercream)
  • pouring fondant 
  • extrait de pistache
  • chopped pistachios
To make these little beauties is quite easy... just have to have all the above ingredients handy. First thing to do is to split all my eclairs lengthwise, pipe my lovely pistache crème au beurre with a startip. Second step is even more easier, mix a bit extrait de pistache into pouring fondant and glazed all my piped eclairs, sprinkle them with a bit chopped pistachios and I am done! Wow, time to sit back and enjoy!!