Daring Bakers Challenge : Puddings

DaringBakers-Pudding

(Manuka honey pudding with coffee, chestnut and dates)

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Pudding purists may want to avert their eyes now. As I was very pressed for time this month, a few shortcuts were taken in order to make the deadline for the challenge. I opted for one of the recipes provided that called for butter rather than suet, and instead of steaming the pudding (which would have taken hours), the mixture was (gasp)microwaved(gasp). It literally took one minute to cook the pudding, and rather pleasingly, it turned out gloriously fluffy and very very tasty.

The pudding was flavoured with Manuka honey – a decision brought about mainly by my wish to utilise that rather lonely jar of New Zealand’s finest honey sitting in the cupboard. The combination of the honey with a hint of vanilla and spice in the pudding, brought to mind classic sticky date pudding, hence the date and coffee puree, as well as a scattering of chestnut crumble (to complete that Autumnal touch), some poached dates and crispy date skins.

While this hasty pudding ended up being pretty tasty, I still kind of wish there had been time to attempt a traditional Sussex pond pudding or a steak and kidney pie – two things that just so happen to be on the list of things I want to try baking. Perhaps it will finally happen, when this hectic daze that I’m in calms down a little….

YogurtPudding-Moro

(Yogurt cake)

Meanwhile here’s another pudding I made recently when we fancied a quick and fairly healthy dessert. This wonderful Lebanese recipe is from the Moro cookbook and is incredibly easy to make. It contains only a very small amount of flour, and so can be adapted to be gluten-free as well. The pudding was so light, clean and citrussy that it practically needed no accompaniment, but if need be, I can imagine it pairing well with stewed rhubarb or berries and stonefruit.

Yogurt cake with pistachios :
(from Moro The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark)

3 large organic or free-range eggs, separated
70g caster sugar
2 vanilla pods, split in half lengthways
350g yogurt (home made yogurt, or Greek yogurt thinned with a little milk)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 orange
juice of 1 lemon
20g plain flour
30g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped [I omitted these as I didn't have any at the time]

Preheat the oven to 180′C and put a bain-marie of water in to warm on the middle shelf. Have ready a 25cm round or square baking dish or cake tin with a solid bottom, preferably stainless-steel, or lined with greaseproof paper.

In a bowl beat the egg yolks with three-quarters of the sugar until thick and pale. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix into the egg-sugar mixture. Add the yogurt, lemon and orange zest, lemon juice and the flour and mix well. In a separate bowl whisk up the egg whites with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Gently and evenly, fold the whites into the yogurt mixture. Pour the mixture into the baking tin. Place the tin in the bain-marie, making sure that the boiling water comes halfway up the tin, and cook for about 20 minutes. Then add the chopped pistachios, sprinkling them gently on top, and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes or until the top is light brown in colour. The correct consistency of the cake should be a light sponge on top with a wet custard below. Serve with yogurt.

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Daring Bakers Challenge : Orange Tian

DaringBakers-OrangeTian

(Orange ‘Tian’ – hazelnut sable, lemon curd, apple mint)

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

You know what they say : sometimes the simplest things are the best, and it doesn’t get any simpler than oranges, whipped cream and pastry. On paper, this sounds like an unexciting, rather basic dessert. Having now tasted my assembled version of the orange tian, I can certainly see its appeal. The burst of flavour from the juicy orange segments draped in slightly bitter orange caramel, offset the sweet richness of the whipped cream (folded through with homemade marmalade) and pastry. The whole is understated, but well balanced. It’s the kind of tricky, subtle balance that many of us bakers strive to achieve but don’t always succeed in accomplishing. It’s like knowing how many swear words to insert into Al Swearengen’s dialogue without making him sound too ridiculous. Or how many ruffles you can fit onto a dress before you get panned on Go Fug Yourself.

DaringBakers-OrangeTian3

I must admit, I like adding ruffles to my desserts. I ruffled this dessert up with the addition of lemon curd and little white-green apple mint leaves, which have a flavour I would liken to minty olives (predominantly mint, with a finish that is grassy and very much like extra virgin olive oil). I also ruffled the end result with some green tea froth (as pictured below), but decided in the end that it was one ruffle too many.

My favourite components from the recipe provided were the homemade marmalade and the whipped cream. The whipped cream was stabilised with gelatine and flavoured with a small amount of the marmalade. I altered the recipe slightly to include some yogurt and the end result was quite light and refreshing. The marmalade, my first attempt at making one, was very easy to put together and since I didn’t use much of it in my plated dish, I now have a nice small container of marmalade to use in other things. I’m already considering my breakfast tomorrow, and thinking of a breakfast-inspired dessert.

All in all, an enjoyable little treat (perfect for the current weather too!), with many thanks to Jennifer. If you’d like any of the recipes, you can get them from her blog.

DaringBakers-OrangeTian2

(..with green tea)

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Daring Bakers Challenge : Tiramisu

DaringBakers-Tiramisu3

(Tiramisu : Another way to ‘pick me up’)

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Tiramisu is something I rather enjoy eating and have made many times before. Friends tell me of a local restaurant where if you order tiramisu, it is brought to your table in a large glass bowl and scooped right in front of you. Surely the perfect way to enjoy tiramisu!

For the challenge this month, I thought I would try to present tiramisu in a different way whilst still retaining it’s rustic charm. Instead of assembling the components, I used them individually on the plate. My first attempt at this was not too successful. I think I was trying too hard to use all the necessary components on the plate, and sometimes you really can’t force something that just doesn’t fit.

At this point, I was humming a little ditty by Cher because I had run out of a few components and wasn’t sure if I’d have time to make them again. Luckily I managed to find a spare moment and decided to risk a second attempt – this time also boosting the chocolate content two or three-fold. What you see above is the end result.

The sponge is from here. It is light, very flavoursome, and lots of fun to make (what a great dinner party piece it would be, to get your guests to ‘make’ their own chocolate cake). Also on the plate : an espresso granita, Marsala-spiked chocolate pastry cream, a lucscious chocolate mousse and a coffee flavoured mascarpone. The mascarpone incidentally, was my favourite component. It’s not something I would usually bother making at home, though I’ve made it often at work (usually with double cream and citric acid, instead of single cream and lemon juice). Items that didn’t make it to the plate : the savoiardi sponge and zabaglione (but I promise you that I did make both the first time round).

You can get the recipes for the components from the hosts’ blogs. I’m providing the recipe for the chocolate mousse below.

Thank you Aparna and Deeba for the challenge! I loved the end result so much, I might be tweaking it a little and putting it on my menu soon :)

DaringBakers-Tiramisu4

Chocolate Mousse :
(serves 10; based on a recipe from Wild Weed Pie by Janni Kyritsis)

300g semi-sweet (57%-cocoa) couverture chocolate, melted and kept lukewarm
2 eggs
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups 35%-fat cream, whipped to soft peaks

Whisk eggs and yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale. Meanwhile, combine the 3/4 cup sugar and water in a small saucepan, heat gently until all the sugar dissolves, then boil it until it reaches a temperature of 118′C. Slowly add this sugar syrup to the whisking egg mixture, drizzling it down the side of the bowl, then continue whisking until the egg mixture is cool. Fold in melted chocolate, then the cream. Chill for at least a few hours or overnight, to set.

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