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 😉 to start baking for the month of July.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s 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!

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Great Brownie Debate

For some reason, I’ve always been a cookie person. They’re easy to make, you can throw just about anything into them, and you don’t have to fuss too much over them once you put them in the oven. Somehow, brownies have always struck me as incredibly complicated and intimidating. I think it’s more my fear of over-baking them in the oven and having a dry, sticky mess of brown rather than beautiful squares of deliciousness that you find at BAKED. After reading an article that my lovely father sent me about the great brownie debate, I think my fear has deminished. You really just have to know what type of brownies you want – cakey, fudgy, gooey, etc. As long as you keep an eye on them in the oven and use top quality ingredients, I’ve discovered that it’s difficult to go wrong.

I decided on fudgy ones, because I figured they would be good to pair with a scoop of ice cream. They were actually incredibly easy to make – I didn’t even have to break out the mixmaster, I just hand mixed everything. I baked them for about 38 minutes and that seemed like good timing for a rich fudgy texture. With fudgy brownies, I think it’s hard to go wrong, because even if they are under-baked, they’ll still be thick and gooey and of course – fudgy. When melting the butter, make sure you use a large enough pot, because you’ll add all the ingredients to it. I nearly had a small catastrophe when my mixture almost came pouring over the sides of the pot. I brought them up to my brothers for dessert with two pints of ice cream. Yum Yum 🙂

RICH FUDGY BROWNIES

(Adapted from Finecooking.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter; more softened butter for the pan
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt

DIRECTIONS:

1) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch-square metal baking pan, tapping out the excess flour.

2) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk or stir in the sugar, followed by all four of the eggs and the vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, starting slowly to keep the ingredients from flying out of the pan and stirring more vigorously as you go. Stir until the batter is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.

3) Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it so it fills the pan evenly.

5) Bake until a toothpick or a skewer inserted 3/4 inch into the center of the brownies comes out with just a few moist clumps clinging to it, about 40 minutes. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

6) Cut into 16 squares. Keep the brownies at room temperature, well wrapped.