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This months’ Daring Bakers challenge was to make tiramisu – from scratch. Including making the marscapone cheese, the ladyfinger biscuits, and the three types of cream that mix together to make the creamy layer.

Well, despite loving tiramisu, I didn’t complete the challenge. I don’t mind putting aside a whole afternoon to the daring bakers, but I just haven’t had time this month for the two or three evenings that this recipe would take.

So I didn’t do the daring bakers.

But I did make tiramisu!

Last night I made the ladyfinger biscuits from the daring bakers recipe. I was nervous to do it because the recipe was so explicit not to overbeat the batter. And it involved piping the fingers which I had not done before (I used a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off!)

But here they are and me feeling very pleased with myself!

And then because I wasn’t going to use the daring bakers recipe, I went to the BBC Good Food page and found this recipe… “Best-ever Tiramisu”. Well, with a title like that, I decided it was worth a try!

It took me just the amount of time it took Rasmus to finish up the delicious puff-pastry wrapped pork he made for dinner, to mix the cream and rum (hey, I didn’t have any marsala!) and marscapone, and then to layer it all together with my beautiful ladyfingers and some Green & Blacks maya gold chocolate.

And it did taste pretty delicious, if I do say so myself… :)

Here’s the ladyfingers recipe from the Daring Baker’s challenge for those of you who want to try it:

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.

Ingredients:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar,

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

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The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

And I’m back!

After just over an hour sitting on my countertop, the nanaimo bars finally thawed enough to cut through the base. unfortunately the chocolate was still very brittle so broke into a thousand pieces as I cut. I managed to salvage a couple of normal-looking pieces to take photos of…

I have never heard of Nanaimo bars before. They are a Canadian treat and incredibly sweet but yummy. The base is like tiffin (hag and mag for any of my family reading) with extras: coconut and almonds. (Note to self: remember that husband does not like coconut in cakes or bars in future…) The middle bit is like a custardy layer – and it does in fact have Birds custard powder in it. The top is just melted chocolate, but don’t even get me started on how much I miss having a microwave to melt chocolate in.

I like them. I like the base the most though. The custard layer I could take or leave. Maybe these would be yummy turned into some kind of millionaire shortbread instead? Hmm….

I should make clear I cheated a bit in this challenge. We were supposed to first make the gluten free graham crackers to use in the recipe. But I started too late and could not on short notice find most of the ingredients I needed in the local GB supermarket. So I just used digestive biscuits instead. I like to see it as easing back in to the challenges :)

I did take part in the daring bakers challege this month. I know, I know, it’s been ages. But I blame it on getting married, and then Christmas came along so unexpectedly…

The thing is, this one was indeed a challenge for me, which I wasn’t really expecting. But that might be because I bought cheap chocolate (shame on me!) and then sulked for half an hour when it didn’t do what I was asking of it.

Tonight I am finally nearly finished. BUT I had put it in the freezer to keep fresh as I was away for work two nights, and it’s kinda still frozen. Which means it looks rubbish and is too hard to cut out of the tin. I’m hoping it doesn’t taste as not-quite-right as I am expecting it to.

I’m hoping a few hours out on our counter will make it soft enough to cut through, but probably I won’t get round to posting until tomorrow. Sorry! But please come back… :)

I didn’t do the daring bakers challenge this month. This is normally our reveal date so sorry if you were hoping for another extravagant something. But since I get married TWO WEEKS TODAY I have a few other things higher up my to-do list… :)

In case you were wondering, this months challenge was puff pastry, or vol-au-vonts more precisely, which I would love to have tried, because they are a very traditional Belgian dish, usually served with chicken in a creamy white wine sauce. Delicious! Oh well, another recipe on to my “must try this one day” list.

Did you catch that part about it being just two weeks until I get married?

Two weeks. I will be a wife. Wife. If you say it over and over long enough to starts not to sound like a real word.

But oh. I am so ready. So very ready.

I don’t mean I have it all figured out and I probably have no idea on many levels what we are about to commit ourselves to. This is huge. But I am ready to jump in together and face whatever life brings us. Together.

Two weeks. Wow.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

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“Spectacular” is quite a daring word, don’t you think? The first time I logged on the the DB site in August and read the description and recipe that Angela and Lorraine had chosen I was a wee bit intimidated. The most layers my cakes have ever had is two.

This one was supposed to have five.

Actually, mine ended up with seven I think. I lost count. Which I think is ok coz apparently you can come across recipes for the Dobos Torta with up to 12 layors…

I aimed to do it on Saturday but due to other creative activies (wedding invite making) it wasn’t until Sunday evening that I had any time to do it. So I made the sponge layers then, which ended up being totally fun and not at all intimidating. There are TEN eggs in this cake. Six in the sponge and four in the icing. And I really love breaking eggs. I particularly enjoy seperating them and that’s what you had to do for six of them.

So there I was, standing in Rasmus’ kitchen, with the sun going down outside, him typing away on his computer at the table, the flat quiet and me seperating eggs. After a very busy weekend it was a little moment of wonderfulness.

And the layers were much easier than I expected. I followed the instructions exactly (ish) and it worked like a dream. I put them in the fridge over night and went back Monday night to work on the buttercream and the toffee layer.

Which was slightly less wonderful. The buttercream was meant to be done in a bain marie but I did not have a bowl that worked so I improvised and got confused and it took a while to be done. Then I had no idea what toffee looks like when it is done and the recipe didn’t say how long it took to get to this point so I stood over the cooker for about twenty minutes wringing my hands and mumbling to myself.

They both worked out fine. The toffee is the kind that will make your teeth stick together for the next ten years, but is what makes the cake special. I put it all together, including a mini version that I had made with the leftover batter.

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Rasmus and I ate the mini one on Monday night which turned out to be non-so-mini and rather filling after the big plate of spaghetti bolognaise. I think we both agreed it was good cake, a bit sweet (you don’t want to hear how much sugar there is in this baby), but nice. I don’t know if I’d go through all that faff again because I don’t think it was incredibly special but it has made me want to experiment with more layer cakes.

I took the big one to a dinner I had with my beautiful girls on Tuesday night…

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My evenings with these ladies never fail to put me in a fantastic mood, they bring me tangible joy. And this night was no exception, sitting on Marissa’s terrace as the sun went down, the grill was fired up, and much much *loud* conversation was had by all. With a lot of laughing.

And cake eating.

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See! Look how excited she is to eat the cake… :) And how awesome are the red twinkle lights?!

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.


This month’s challenge included two recipes with the option to do both or just one or the other. I was so very excited about the idea of making marshmallows myself, coz this is something I have seen on various food blogs the last year and have been so intrigued by.

Honestly, marshmallows are one of those things I thought could only be made in factories. You know, in the category with haribo, something only the insane would attempt to make themselves. Possibly I even considered they were not even made out of real ingredients but just mgically appeared out the factory door… But apparently marshmallows are fair game for 2000+ daring bakers, so I was ready to have a go.

As was my friend Hannah when she came into town to help. Ok, she came into town to see me, but that usually involves baking. But you have no idea how difficult it is to find light corn syrup in this city. And I couldn’t honestly be bothered to add on the faff of making my own into the recipe (something which, again, would have fallen in my “only made in factories” classification).

So we sighed and looked disappointed and then set to making the Milan Cookies.

It was a fun recipe, especially coz it involved two boxes of icing sugar, seperating six eggs (I love seperating eggs), and then the discovery that Rasmus has a lemon juicer that could be in a Danish design magazine.

We substituted lemon juice for lemon extract, and added some orange juice as well as the zest to the chocolate filling, coz the orangey zinginess was just so good. And our cookies were decidedly non-uniform in shape and size, but that only adds to their charm!

When they first came out the oven they were very crispy. Hannah took half home with her and the other half were served up to our church expression last night, where they quickly disappeared. They were noticably softer by then, and despite that being not so “milan”, Rasmus and I agreed we actually preferred them that way – the chocolate was less likely too ooze everywhere, and the floor was less likely to be sprayed with shards of cookies each time you took a bite… :)

Later in the evening, I tried taking some arty pictures of the cookies, and I’m quite proud of how well my wee pink Sony camera did!

Bring on the August challenge!

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

So if you saw my post a little while ago, you’ll know I joined this community of bakers at the beginning of June. One member each month chooses a recipe for the whole community to try during the month and the idea is we all post our results on the same day – the 27th.

For my first challenge then, a typically British treat: Bakewell Tart.

Now, you can buy these in packs of six in Tesco or Sainsburys in the UK and they come with an extra layer of white icing and usually a glace cherry in the middle. For some reason I have a mental association of these with my university flatmate Ellie – did you eat a lot of them my dear?

Anyway, I like them well enough but it had never even crossed my mind to try baking one myself, so what a good way to initiate myself into the daring bakers. And here is my result…

For those of you who don’t know, Bakewell Tart (some people call it Bakewell Pudding apparently?!) is a British tart with a sweet pastry crust, a layer of jam topped with frangipane. Delicious!

I had four wonderful friends coming round for dinner last Thursday (the night we started off with chicken and apple burgers, mmm…) so I decided to make this for dessert.

Only I got home from work and realised that

a) I didn’t have a pretty pie dish like my sis Jen,

b) the tart dish I did have was still in Rasmus’ kitchen from last time I baked there.

So I had to make do and make it in a small casserole dish *blush*. Although actually I think it turned out pretty good. Because it was so deep, I had to bake it for quite a bit longer than the recipe stated but it came out really easy onto the plate and then looked very pretty!

And it must have tasted good coz  only had a small slice left to take in for coffee time at work the next day for my boss and I…

I used black cherry jam in the bottom (the expensive import kind found in the foriegn aisle of the supermarket!) which tasted really good. If I made it again (which I may well do!) I would roll my pastry a little thinner and make a shallower tart.

Or make these adorable mini ones that I made with the leftover ingredients in the teeny tiny baking tins my sis bought me for Christmas. Aren’t they cute!