July Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

My first Daring Bakers challenge is finally ready! I’m always reading my blogroll and seeing all the amazing recipes that come from the Daring Bakers. A few months ago I applied to become one myself and was finally admitted into the club ūüėČ to start baking for the month of July.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers‚Äô challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita‚Äôs world ‚Äď life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that‚Äôs then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. At first, I looked at the recipe – which was 13 pages long – and said to myself “this will be my one and only Daring Bakers challenge.” I had no idea how – between work, going to Israel this past week for a wedding and everything else on my plate – I was going to be able to complete this multi-step recipes. After spending a lot of time reading the recipe on the subway rides to and from work, I realized that, while there were many components to this cake, they were actually not that difficult to make, you just had to give yourself freezing time.

Because of the freezing times needed for the ice cream, I split up the recipe into multiple days. I made the ice cream one day, the cakes another, and put it all together on the day of a dinner party my roommate and I put together in order to feed the cake to some friends. We quickly realized that even five of us were not going to be able to eat all of it and almost two weeks later there is still some sitting in our freezer.

As I said before, the different components of the cake were not actually that difficult to make; in retrospect, they were quite simple (although as usual, my faulty oven never fails to overbake the edges of my cakes.) I’d never thought of making ice cream before without an ice cream machine, but this method of mixing up cream and sugar makes you realize how easy it is to make your own ice cream. I even bought a vanilla bean! Something I had never done before. I know that you’re allowed to modify the recipes to a certain extent, but given that this was my first challenge, I decided to follow the original recipe to a tee. Even after following the recipe exactly, for some reason, my chocolate ice cream decided not to freeze all the way through, so while the fudge sauce froze solid, the chocolate ice cream turned more into a sauce.

After having completed this first challenge, I now understand why so many people call themselves Daring Bakers. It’s such a fun way to learn new and exciting things about baking – I’d never even heard of a swiss roll before – and there are so many other people making it, that someone has likely made the same mistake you did and is willing to help. I’m really looking forward to next month’s challenge, which will be made in my new apartment. WOOT WOOT!

Salty Blueberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes, when it’s so hot and humid outside, I get the insane idea that I’d rather stay inside and roast myself in the sweltering kitchen by baking something¬†delicious¬†to eat. That is exactly what happened to me this past weekend, and the result was yummy oatmeal chocolate chip blueberry cookies with a sprinkle of fleur-de-sel on top.

As I’ve said in previous posts, fleur-de-sel is one of my favorite things out there. After these cookies, I think I have decided that it’s now essential that it put it onto everything I make from here on out. It adds the perfect bit of saltiness to a sweet thing like a cookie, without overpower the baked goodness of the chocolate, or in this case, oatmeal with chocolate and berries. The blueberries and chocolate just happened because I’d been given a mixture of the two and they’d been sitting in my fridge for weeks. This seemed like the perfect oppurtunity to use them, especially since I prefer anything over raisins in an oatmeal cookies.

As usual, the gas stove was faulty and I burned a few at the start, but I quickly learned that I needed to lower the heat/reduce baking time. These are a quick and easy oatmeal cookie but are given a sophisticated touch with the fleur-de-sel sprinkled on top. I would love to try different combinations of fruits and chocolates in the future, although blueberries and semi-sweet chocolate chips seem to go together very well.

P.S. Рsorry for the horrible photo. I am now convinced that I need a new camera.

SALTY BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE OATMEAL COOKIES

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 6 to 8 oz. mixed dried blueberries and semi-sweet mini chocolate chips or any chocolate fruit combination of your choosing.
  • 1/2 teapoon flaky sea salt (like Maldon or fleur de sel) (for sprinkling on top)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2) Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and blueberry/chocolate mixture and mix until well incorporated.

3) Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about 3/4-inch thickness.

4) Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie

5) Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

Salty Caramel Cake

It is currently 92 degrees at 8 o’clock in the evening! What has this world come to? The heat forecast for tomorrow is 98 with a heat index of 106. I think it’s about time that I make a trip to Iceland. I’m really hoping that I can get to the beach with my cousins this weekend, because when it’s so hot there is nothing better to do then lounge by the pool and walk down to the beach. The heat has also caused my poor herb plants to wilt horribly. I try and water them every evening, but even one night in this heat without h20 and they shrivel up. Oh well. My mint plant, that sits right on my window sill, somehow seems to beat the heat and grows so big that I’m worried about how I’m going to transport it when I move at the end of the summer.

Anyway, this past weekend, my dad and step-mom came up to New York for a bar-mitzvah in New Jersey. It also happened to be the day after my dad’s birthday, so Friday night we threw a little soiree. It was loads of fun! I’d say we had about 18 people over who all enjoyed little snacks and champagne while enjoying the coolness of the dining room that had been pumped with air conditioning all afternoon. My contribution to the evening was obviously a dessert, but specifically a birthday cake!

I don’t think I can go on much more about how much I loved the BAKED cookbook. It’s quite possibly my favorite thing ever. This cake came straight from those pages. I’d actually eaten this cake before when I went to the bakery itself in Brooklyn and wrote a review about it here, but now was my chance to tackle it myself. This cake is not that difficult in theory to make, but given my teeny kitchen and limited time I had, it obviously turned into a bit of a hassle. I made it in different parts, putting it all together Friday morning. If you have a nice long afternoon, putting it all together at once will probably save you some time and dishes.

It’s an incredibly rich cake that is offset wonderfully by the caramel that is soaked into the layers. I was worried that the caramel was not the right¬†consistency¬†since it look really white and milky and I don’t have a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature in a sauce pan, but the¬†milkiness¬†was just from the sour cream and it turned out fine. I baked the cakes just a bit too long, but I still blame this on the faulty gas ovens. Once it was put all together, it had the perfect¬†chocolaty¬†taste with a hint of caramel throughout the cake and ganache. Of course, the fleur de sel sprinkled on top added the perfect after taste. I think that it was a big hit at the party!

SWEET AND SALTY CAKE

Adapted from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking

INGREDIENTS:

cake:

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • ganache:

    • 1 pound dark chocolate, chopped
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 pound (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool

    DIRECTIONS:

    cake:

    1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter parchment paper and flour; set aside.

    2) In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, 1 1/4 cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

    3) In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

    4) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and it appears to create strings inside the bowl, about 7 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

    5) Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely.

    caramel:

    1) Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

    2) Meanwhile, in another small saucepan, mix together cream and salt. Bring cream to a boil and cook until salt has dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

    3) When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Whisk in sour cream. Cool, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

    ganache:

    1) Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

    2) In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

    3) When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to rest for 1 minute. Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes. Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Let sit 1 minute before stirring from the center until chocolate is melted.

    4) Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.

    assembling cake:

    1) Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate.

    2) Using about 1/4 cup of the caramel, spread a thin layer on the cake, allowing some of the caramel to soak into the cake. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another layer of caramel followed by a layer of ganache icing. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up.

    3) Spread entire cake with remaining ganache icing. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.