Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daring Bakers December 2008

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand
Whew! This little beauty was by FAR the most challenging challenge to date! The challenge specifically included six elements, each of which was delicious, some of which were tricky, I improvised a little here and there but attempted it all and the end result was a mountain of dishes and a delicious frozen dessert! Find the recipe in all its glory here. Now, pictures and then the play-by-play:

Now for the individual elements, from the bottom up:

Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake): Light and flavorful to begin with, then mine basically absorbed the ganache layer above it so it ended up tasting like chocolate covered almonds. The recipe calls for almond meal, which I didn't bother to find. I just buzzed some thinly sliced almonds in the food processor for a few minutes and it turned out great!

Ganache: Will be showing up in my kitchen again soon! Required you to make a "dry" caramel...melt sugar---then add cream....that was fun, and it turned out surprisingly well!

Chocolate Mousse: Beautiful! I went with the milk chocolate Chantilly option. Never made mousse before, I was surprised how easy it is! Apparently delicate doesn't have to be difficult!

Praline Feuillete: Yummy! Think homemade "Crunch!" bar. I took the shortcut and used rice-krispies instead of the lace crepes....those got stuck on the someday list.

Creme Brulee: Don't get too excited, no blow torch involved. This was more flan-ish. Fresh: good. Frozen: meh. I wasn't a fan of this insert because it thawed more slowly than the mousse so it was all ice-crystal ridden.

Frosting: Yeah. My thought was to use the white chocolate icing to really make my strawberry poinsettias stand out.....no.go. The recipe used gelatine as the thickening agent(never done that with frosting). I was impatient and thought I must have screwed it up. Drizzled some on as a glaze and found the rest all lovely and set up in my sink after the party. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Super Easy Braided Bread

- 1 package of quick rise yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp of olive oil

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and set aside for 5-10 min. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add egg and olive oil to yeast mixture and slowly stir (I use the dough hook on my kitchen aid) into dry ingredients until a sticky but smooth dough is formed. I get impatient and usually add all the liquid, so if it is too sticky just add a little flour until it is manageable enough to knead until somewhat smooth.
Let rise in a greased bowl for 30min. (I put the bowl covered with a towel in the oven with just the light on and I find that makes it rise really well.)
Punch down and separate into 3 even pieces and roll and stretch into tubes about 18" long. Braid pressing ends tightly together. Let rise for another 20-30min and bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 400 F for 15 min.
When done, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.