Croissants

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I am on to my third Double Challenge. What was our third back challenge? Croissants! I am so glad that I did the Danish Braid challenge in June because it gave me some experience working with laminated dough. I LOVE croissants, but they are full of butter, so I don’t each them much because of my lactose intolerance. I have always wanted to try making them, but never thought I could. Well, thank you Daring Bakers for making me suck it up and dig in! What a great challenge, although I wasn’t able to start it until last night!!! Can you say, staying up until midnight!?!

I made regular croissants and a few chocolate ones. I can’t wait to try them. The only substitutions I made was using soy milk instead of non-fat milk in the Preferment. For the dough, I subbed half soy creamer and half soy milk for the whole milk as well as Earth Balance and a little soy mayonnaise for the butter. For the egg wash, I used soy creamer instead. I did make the preferement on Monday. On Tuesday, I made the dough and Danish Braid, but didn’t have enough butter to start the dough, so that had to wait until Wednesday. On Wednesday, I finished making the croissants. For the chocolate croissants, I used the rest of the ganache I had from the Filbert Gateau, which was enough for about 5 croissants. For the remaining 3 chocolate croissants, I used my chili powder infused chocolate bar, I can’t wait to try that one!

The dough rolled out better this time than for the Danish Braid and the only real problem I ran into was my complete failure in geometry. I had to call my husband in to help me figure out the triangles. He was very helpful and I was able to figure it out (he always gives me hints, but makes me figure it out, which is nice, helps me to learn). I still need to work on my croissant rolling, but they were pretty good for my first attempt. The rising went well and they baked up just like they should have. Although, my a little too big one took a little longer to bake.  My chocolate oozed out a bit, but they still tasted great!  If you would like to be a little daring, here’s the recipe, try it out!

Verdict: I would totally make these again!  I’m impressed with how flaky the layers are.  I can’t wait until the morning to try one with some Apricot jam.

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Croissants (from the Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt & Chad Robertson) DB Challenge #3: Jan 2007

Participants: Founders Lisa (La Mia Cucina), Ivonne (Cream Puffs in Venice). Alpha Class: Peabody (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody), Brilynn (Jumbo Empanadas), Helen (Tartlette) Beta Class: Quellia (All Things Edible), Veronica (Veronica’s Test Kitchen)

Servings: Approximately 16 – 18 croissants Time required for recipe: 1 to 2 days

Allowed modifications:

1. High altitude modifications are allowed as long as you stay “true” to the recipe.

2. Conversion for certain dietary restrictions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc. is allowed.

3. Recipe ingredient exception allowed only if allergy or an ingredient not available or cost prohibitive in your region.

Additional Kitchen Notes: To maintain the correct consistency of the dough & butter components, work in a cool kitchen up until the final rising of the shaped pastries. The preferment, a mixture of milk, yeast, & flour with the consistency of a batter, is left to rise so that it will ferment slightly, developing flavor & aroma, before the dough is mixed. It can be made in the morning allowed to rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours to make the croissant dough the same day, or it can be made at night, put in the refrigerator to rise overnight, & used to make the croissant dough straightaway the next morning.

Preferment:

¾ cup non-fat milk (6 oz/150 ml)

1 tbsp active dry yeast (15ml)

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour(6 ¼ oz/175g)

Dough:

1 tbsp + 1 tsp active dry yeast (20 ml)

1 ¾ cup whole milk (14 oz/425 ml)

6 cups all purpose flour(28 oz/800g)

1/3 cup sugar (2 ½ oz/70g)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt(20 ml)

1 tbsp melted unsalted butter (15 ml)

Roll-in butter:

2 ¾ cup unsalted butter, cool but pliable (22 oz/625g)

Egg wash:

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup heavy cream (2 oz/60 ml)

pinch salt

To Make the Preferment: In a small saucepan, warm the milk to take the chill off (between 80° to 90 °F). Pour the milk into a mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk, stir to dissolve the yeast with a wooden spoon, & then add the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter forms. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth & let the mixture rise until almost double in volume, 2 to 3 hours at moderate temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

To Make the Dough: First measure out all your ingredients & keep them near at hand. Transfer the preferment & then the yeast to the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the yeast is incorporated into the preferment batter, which will take a minute or two. Stop the mixer as needed & use a spatula to clean the bottom & sides of the bowl, folding the loosened portion into the mixture to incorporate all the elements fully. When the mixture has come together into an even, well-mixed mass, increase the speed to medium, & mix for a couple of minutes. Slowly add half of the milk & continue to mix until the milk is fully incorporated.

Reduce the speed to low, add the flour, sugar, salt, melted butter, & the rest of the milk, & mix until the mass comes together in a loose dough, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer & let the dough rest for 15 to 20 minutes. This resting period helps to shorten the final mixing phase, which comes next.

Engage the mixer again on low speed & mix until the dough is smooth & elastic, a maximum of 4 minutes. If the dough is very firm, add a little milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Take care not to overmix the dough, which will result in a tough croissant that also turns stale more quickly. Remember, too, you will be rolling out the dough several times, which will further develop the gluten structure, so though you want a smooth dough, the less mixing you do to achieve that goal, the better. Cover the bowl with cheesecloth & let the dough rise in a cool place until the volume increases by half, about 1-½ hours.

Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough to the floured surface & press into a rectangle 2 inches thick. Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap, or slip it into a plastic bag & seal closed. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for 4 to 6 hours.

To Make the Roll-in butter: About 1 hour before you are ready to start laminating the dough, put the butter that you will be rolling into the dough in the bowl of the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until malleable but not warm or soft, about 3 minutes. Remove the butter from the bowl, wrap in plastic wrap, & place in the refrigerator to chill but not resolidify.

Laminating the dough: Lightly dust a cool work surface, & then remove the chilled dough & the butter from the refrigerator. Unwrap the dough & place it on the floured surface. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 28 by 12 inches. With the long side of the rectangle facing you, & starting from the left side, spread & spot the butter over two-thirds of the length of the rectangle. Fold the uncovered third over the butter & then fold the left-hand third over the center, as if folding a business letter. The resulting rectangle is known as a plaque. With your fingers, push down along the seams on the top & the bottom to seal in the plaque.

Second turn: Give the plaque a quarter turn so the seams are to your right & left, rather than at the top & bottom. Again, roll out the dough into a rectangle 28 by 12 inches, & fold again in the same manner. Wrap in plastic wrap or slip into a plastic bag & place in the refrigerator for 1 ½ to 2 hours to relax the gluten in the dough before you make the third fold, or “turn”.

Third turn: Clean the work surface, dust again with flour, & remove the dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap, place on the floured surface, & again roll out into a rectangle 28 by 12 inches. Fold into thirds in the same manner. You should have a plaque of dough measuring about 9 by 12 inches, about the size of a quarter sheet pan, & 1 ½ to 2 inches thick. Wrap in plastic wrap or slip into the plastic bag, place on a quarter sheet pan, & immediately place in the freezer to chill for at least 1 hour. If you intend to make the croissants the next morning, leave the dough in the freezer until the evening & then transfer it to the refrigerator before retiring. The next morning, the dough will be ready to roll out & form into croissants, proof, & bake. Or, you can leave the dough in the freezer for up to 1 week; just remember to transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw overnight before using.

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Making the croissant: When you are ready to roll out the dough, dust the work surface again. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 32 by 12 inches & 3/8 inches thick. Using a pizza wheel or chef’s knife, cut the dough into long triangles that measure 10 to 12 inches on each side & about 4 inches along the base.

Line a half sheet pan (about 13 by 18 inches) with parchment paper. To shape each croissant, position a triangle with the base facing you. Positioning your palms on the two outer points of the base, carefully rolling the base toward the point. To finish, grab the point with one hand, stretching it slightly, & continue to roll, tucking the point underneath the rolled dough so that the croissant will stand tall when you place it on the sheet pan. If you have properly shaped the croissant, it will have 6 or 7 ridges.

As you form the croissants, place them, well-spaced, on the prepared half-sheet pan. When all the croissants are on the pan, set the pan in a draft-free area with relatively high humidity, & let the pastries rise for 2 to 3 hours. The ideal temperature is 75 °F. A bit cooler or warmer is all right, as long as the temperature is not warm enough to melt the layers of butter in the dough, which would yield greasy pastries. Cooler is preferable & will increase the rising time & with it the flavor development. For example, the home oven (turned off) with a pan of steaming water placed in the bottom is a good place for proofing leavened baked items. To make sure that no skin forms on the pastries during this final rising, refresh the pan of water halfway through the rising.

During this final rising, the croissants should at least double in size & look noticeably puffy. If when you press a croissant lightly with a fingertip, the indentation fills in slowly, the croissants are almost ready to bake. At this point, the croissants should still be slightly “firm” & holding their shape & neither spongy nor starting to slouch. If you have put the croissants into the oven to proof, remove them now & set the oven to 425 °F to preheat for 20 to 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes before you are ready to bake the croissants, make the egg wash. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, & salt until you have a pale yellow mixture. Using a pastry brush, lightly & carefully brush the yolk mixture on the pastries, being careful not to allow the egg wash to drip onto the pan. Let the wash dry slightly, about 10 minutes, before baking.

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Baking & storing the croissants: Place the croissants into the oven, immediately turn down the oven temperature to 400 °F, & leave the door shut for the first 10 minutes. Then working quickly, open the oven door, rotate the pan 180 degrees, & close the door. This rotation will help the pastries to bake evenly. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes longer, rotating the pan again during this time if the croissants do not appear to be baking evenly. The croissants should be done in 15 to 20 minutes total. They are ready when they are a deep golden brown on the top & bottom, crisp on the outside & light when they are picked up, indicating that the interior is cooked through.

 

Remove the croissants from the oven & place them on a wire rack to cool. As they cool, their moist interiors will set up. They are best if eaten while they are still slightly warm. If they have just cooled to room temperature, they are fine as well, or you can rewarm them in a 375°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes to recrisp them before serving. You can also store leftover croissants in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day, & then afterward in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you have stored them, recrisp them in the oven before serving.

Pain au Jambon Variation: After you cut the rolled-out dough into triangles, lay 1 ounce (30 g) thinly sliced smoked ham over tow-thirds of each triangle, leaving the pointed tip (the remaining one-third) uncovered. Place some matchstick-sized batons of Gruyere or similar cheese on top of the ham. Roll up carefully, encasing the ham & cheese, & then proceed as directed for plain croissants.

Pain au Chocolat Variation: Roll out the dough as directed, but cut it into 6 by 4 inch rectangles, rather than triangles. Place 1 ounce (30 g) bittersweet chocolate batons (or 2 ounces/55g for double chocolate) in the center of each rectangle. Starting from the long side, roll up each rectangle carefully, encasing the batons in the center, & proceed as directed for plain croissants.

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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

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Its time for another Daring Bakers challenge! Yeah! This month we are baked Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. What are filberts you ask? They are also known as hazelnuts. Gateau is a cake and who doesn’t love pralines! This cake was similar to the Opera Cake, with a couple of differences, which, of course, gave it a flavor all its own. The cake is made with ground hazelnuts, a layer of buttercream that has been mixed with pralined hazelnuts (hazelnuts coated in caramel), a layer of whipped cream, then repeat. You top the whole thing off with an apricot glaze and chocolate ganache and some buttercream piping. Our host for this month is Chris of Mele Cotte.Chris tells us: “I have had Great Cakes by Carol Walter for a long, long time. Its one of those cookbooks (in the small bookstore within in my home) I am a bit fearful of. Honestly! The cakes are so lovely & elegant, I am not worthy. Heee!! This Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream is one cake that I have looked at with a raised eye brown because it looked perfect.”We had to use the same nut throughout the recipe, alcohol was optional, we had to use buttercream in our garnish/decoration on top of the cake, we could use any fruit flavored glaze, and lastly, the cake had to be round. Here we go:

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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
1 Filbert Gateau
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Filbert Gateau
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)
Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar.  It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step.  When finished, the mixture should be ribbony.  Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind.  Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so.  Continue to beat for another ½ minute. 
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.*  Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds.   Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter.  Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.  **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter!  It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan.  Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan.  Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

I used a mixture of tofu, flax meal, egg replacer and soy yogurt to replace the eggs in the cake. I also added some baking powder and a little baking soda to help the cake rise. I left out the clarified butter.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake.  *Can be made in advance.I made this as is except that I used Grand Marnier for the alcohol. Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)
Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream.  Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine.  Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla
Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved.  The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.
Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute.  Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My  buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed  butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.
I used the Buttercream recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking and I used Grand Marnier for the alcohol.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet.  Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals.  If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides.  Cook until the mixture starts to bubble.  **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor.  Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place.  Do not refrigerate.
This came together easily and as is except that I used a silicone mat in place of the parchment paper and butter. The praline brittle is great on its own, especially mixed with some popcorn!  Yum!
Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm.  If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.
Made as is.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
**Ganache can take on many forms.  While warm – great fudge sauce.  While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ – 1 tsp. hot water, if needed
Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil.  Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate.  Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!
For the Ganach, I used hazelnut flavored soy creamer – heavenly!!! I also subbed golden syrup for the corn syrup and used the Grand Marnier again.

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Assembling Cake
Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake.  Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream.  Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake.  Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

I tried to make whipped cream using Mimic Cream, but it never whipped up, so I just poured a little of it over the buttercream for flavor.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake.  Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

By the time I put the third layer on the cake, it cracked in about three places.  I was getting really tired by this point and I just gave in and did the best I could with keeping it even.  My praline buttercream was a little too chunky, I didn’t get it fine enough, and it stuck in my piping tip.  So, I took the tip out and just used the bag. My hubby decided that it looked like either a shield or a wagon wheel. 

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely.  Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings.  Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center.  Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance.  The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”.  Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream.  Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake.  As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting.  Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center.  The leaves should overlap.  Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

The best part about the cake for us was the ganache.  Hubby liked the Opera cake better, and he thought that he would like it better with almonds instead of the hazelnuts.  I agree.  The sweetness was good, not overly sweet.  I liked all of the components separately, but when you put them all together, it was just a little too much for me.  Overall, it was good, but not amazing.  My parents and my in-laws loved it, one of my friends and her daughter really liked it too, so its really just an individual taste preference. 

I also made a little mini cake with the leftovers.  It was cute, not great decorating, but cute.

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R2R – Challenge 2

Here we are with our second challenge for Recipes To Rival:

Thank Georges Bank

What the heck is Thank Georges Bank?

That was my first thought. Then I read through the directions and my next thought was, “Oh, its like Eggs Benedict with a fish cake instead of an English muffin on the bottom”. Wait a minute, fish cake!? Hollandaise sauce!? Poached egg!? No way!!! This recipe is so not vegan. How am I going to veganize this? Then I calmed down a bit and took each element on its own. It was easier to look at one part and decide how I was going to make this.

For the fish cakes I debated between subbing the fish with either vital wheat gluten or white beans, then my husband suggested tempeh (he’s so smart!). I used soymilk for the heavy cream, egg replacer for the egg, and I just omited the butter.

There are a few vegan hollandaise recipes out there, so I decided to use the one from La Vegan Loca. She uses a dash of cayenne pepper in her hollandaise, so I went to sprinkle a little in, and out came almost a full teaspoon! Oops! Needless to say it was a little spicy, but still good.

For the poached egg, I made SusanV’s recipe for a tofu omelet, minus the veggies. They are baked in muffin cups, so I put two on each cake. The “fish” cakes came out pretty good, a little too runny and I added a little too much mashed potato (hello, that’s what measuring cups are for! Yes, I’m a goober sometimes). I cooked them up ahead of time hoping that reheating them for dinner would help to keep them together a little better.

To plate, I placed the tempeh “fish” cakes down first, then the tofu omelet, and topped with the hollandaise (tinged pink from the cayenne) and some toast and salad on the side.

The verdict: It was really good! A lot better than I was expecting. My husband went back for seconds. The accidental spice of the hollandaise cut through the richness of it, and I always love my food a little spicy. Would I make this again? Most likely, not often, but I think I would make this again. Maybe serve it alongside some Ratatouille.

Check out the recipe here: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/2008/07/thank-georges-banks.html

Check out everyone’s efforts here: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/
I wasn’t able to take step by step pictures, but I did take some pictures of the finished product.

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Enjoy!

What’s up with National Sugary Days?!?

Well, today was National Creme Brulee day and Wednesday is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day and the 25th is Hot Fudge Sundae day.  Who decided all of these?!?  I bet it was some dentists, we eat sweets, they get business?  Maybe I’m just biased because of all the fillings I have 🙂 

If you endulge in any of these treats, make sure you keep your portions under control and brush your teeth afterwards. 

July 20th

Today is not only my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday Daddy!), but it is also National Lollipop Day, National Ice Cream Soda Day, and National Fortune Cookie Day.  I may celebrate Ice Cream Soday day with a little Purely Decadent soy ice cream with an Izze Pop. 

Celebrate July 14th and 15th

Today is National pick blueberries day, so I didn’t get it to you sooner.   It was also macaroni day and national Grand Marnier day, oh, yum!

Tomorrow is National Tapioca Pudding Day.  Yum!  It is also National Ice Cream Day.  Celebrate by trying the new Purely Decadent Coconut milk ice creams by Turtle Mountain. 

National Holidays

Today is National milk chocolate with almonds day.  My favorite milk chocolate almonds is Blue Diamond Chocolate Almond Milk.  It comes in a 4 pack single serving size as well as the 32 oz. cartons.  Give it a try, yum!

Meme

I found this meme on these fellow Daring Baker’s blog, The Knittings of Bree and Madcap Cupcake.The idea behind the game is you can only use one word for each of your answers. Short and to the point. Enjoy.

One Word Meme:

1. Where is your mobile phone – home

2 .Your significant other – amazing

3. Your hair – reddish

4. Your mother – strong

5. Your father – loving

6. Your favourite thing – food

7 . Your dream last night – forgotten

8. Favourite drink – water

9. Dream/goal – bakery

10. The room you’re in – bedroom

11. Your ex – ???

12. Your fear – spiders

13. Where do you want to be in six years – baking

14. Where were you last night – here

15. What you’re not – photographer

16. Muffins – pumpkin

17. One of your wish list items – bosu

18. Where you grew up – desert

19. last thing you did – shop

20. What are you wearing – cotton

21. Your TV – flat

22. Your pets – cuddley

23. Your computer – laptop

24. Your life – changing

25. Your mood – joyful

26. Missing someone – Tiffany

27. Your car – black

28. Something you’re not wearing – shoes

29. Favourite store – TraderJoes

30. Your summer – monsoon!!!

31. Like (love) someone – hubby!

32. Favourite colour – black

33. last time you laughed – today

34. last time you cried – recently

35. Who will re post this – friends

Monsoon season has arrived!

I am so excited!!!  The rains have come!  That’s actually very good considering there is a big fire about 35 miles from here.  I absolutely love this time of year, we get awesome thunder and lightening shows and we get downpours that last for 10 to 30 minutes followed by light drizzle.  It also helps to cool us down by 20 degrees or so.  YEAH!!!  I love running around outside barefoot when its raining, makes me feel like a kid again without a care in the world.  Hopefully it lasts the whole season (through September).

More July National Holidays

Its amazing what you find while surfing…

July is National Picnic month.  July 1st was  Creative Ice Cream Flavor day. 

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Coming up, July 10th is National Pina Colada day, whoo hoo. 

Stay tuned for more of why I say “Who comes up with this stuff” each month.