Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge - April 2010: Traditional British Pudding

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.

In UK, pudding means dessert. But for this challenge pudding meant a dish/dessert either steamed or boiled. I think Esther chose this challenge to introduce another technique of making cakes as well as introduce an ingredient that is not known by many (suet). Suet is the fat found around the kidney area of a cow or sheep. Suet may be bought fresh from the butchers or for countries like UK and Australia, in groceries. I tried my luck with the butchers, although things just got lost in translation. So for this challenge, I just have to go for the alternative - butter:p

There's basically 2 main types of puddings: crust pudding with filling and sponge pudding. Crust puddings are basically like pies and sponge puddings are like butter cakes. Some classic puddings are Christmas pudding, sticky toffee pudding, Sussex pond pudding and spotted dick.
So for this month's challenge I made a sponge pudding.


The whole process of steaming a cake is all new to me. So I was really excited at the same time anxious with what's going to happen. Traditionally, you would use a pudding bowl or pudding cloth for the pudding, but since I don't have that, I just made use of a normal bowl.


For my first attempt, I made a chocolate pudding with chocolate chips on top.


Puddings are usually served with custard. So I served my chocolate pudding with home-made hazelnut custard. It was definitely a treat! The cake or should I say pudding, was really really moist. The marriage of chocolate and hazelnut was perfect. H and I ended up eating the whole pudding in one sitting! It was indeed a sinful bliss of a dessert.

I was really delighted with the experience of making a pudding that when H asked if we could have friends over for dinner I quickly agreed! I thought, "That's an excuse for me to make another pudding!"


So I made an orange pudding. I just took an orange pound cake recipe, but instead of baking I steamed it. I served it with vanilla custard this time, and it was absolutely gorgeous! The warm kiss of the orange pudding drizzled with a cool creamy custard - miam miam as the French would say. No picture of the pudding with the custard though because I didn't want to keep my guests waiting. ;)

I really had a blast with my first DB challenge; can't wait for next month's!

Components used for this dessert treats:

Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Elvis

It's been about 4 years since I first heard about the Elvis sandwich, but I never really got around trying one.

Peanut butter >>> miam miam!
Banana >>> my favorite fruit...
Bacon >>> good stuff.

Put all those three in a sandwich??? Boy! that got my taste buds very curious; definitely an odd choice for a sandwich.

For today's lazy Sunday breakfast, we were going to have a plain old bacon butty (sandwich). Then all of a sudden I fancied the Elvis sandwich. I quickly looked at our fruit basket (bananas, check!) and cupboard (peanut butter, check!). I thought to myself, "This has got to be a sign!" So I finally did it. I made an Elvis sandwich.




Verdict: Average.

The taste of the bacon didn't really blend well with the peanut butter and banana; it was just... there. I do see why some people would find this sandwich gorgeous; I mean it has the potential to be scrumptious (depending on your taste buds). It's not the type of food that I would end up craving for though. Maybe next time, I'll just have the peanut butter and banana on my sandwich. As for the bacon, coat it with sugar and munch away. That's how I like my bacon!:p

Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Friday, 23 April 2010

Mille Feuille

So I made puff pastry, but I didn't know what dessert to make out of it. There's just too many to choose from. In the end, I opt for something I personally love to pig out on!:p

--- Mille Feuille ---



Mille feuille is a classical French dessert that I think is loved by many people. I mean, what's not to love? Pastry cream sandwiched with layers of puff pastry... even the description of it makes me want to have a slice now! :) The literal meaning of mille feuille is thousand leaf.


It has also many aliases -- Napoleon (US), Bavarian slice (UK), mille foglie (Italy), vanilla slice, custard slice and probably more that I don't know of...


Some people would put jam or cream in their mille feuille, but I prefer a plain and simple pastry cream.I used vanilla beans to flavor my pastry cream to make it extra special!:) Notice the specs of vanilla bean on the filling. :p

There's a reason why this dessert is a classic. Puff pastry + pastry cream = divine! :)

Components used for this dessert treat:


Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Puff Pastry

Pâte feuilletée in French or simply puff pastry is my absolute favorite pastry ever! :) I really love the light and flaky texture of it, and not to mention the buttery flavor!:) I love dishes/desserts that uses puff pastry; I think it just makes a dish more special. Like a simple chicken pie would become an elegant looking dish when puff pastry is used instead of the more common option, pâte brisée. Plus, the pie would taste better with the buttery pastry!:p

It's definitely not the simplest pastry to make. It requires a lot of time and patience to create those infamous layers in the pastry. That's why some restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops opt for buying frozen puff pastries instead.

Since I have quite some time to spare, I've decided to make puff pastry from scratch!

To start of, you need two components: the dough and the butter block. Butter block is simply butter shaped into square. Most recipes will ask you to pound the butter with a rolling pin until it shapes up. I found it easier to just leave the butter at room temperature, then when it's spreadable, shape it into a square (like as if spreading butter cream on a cake) then chill until ready to be used. Voila, butter block. :p Anyway...


So then you roll the dough out to a square (It doesn't have to be perfect;p); put the butter block on the center then fold all sides of the dough onto the butter. You'll end up having something that looks like a parcel. Then you have to chill the parcel for at least 30 minutes.


Then you roll the parcel into a long rectangle.



Then fold the the dough into three; chill for at least 30 minutes again.


Then you start the whole process again: roll the dough into a rectangle, fold into three, chill. You have to do this process six or eight times. Yes, 6 or 8 times!

All the effort of making puff pastry from scratch was definitely worth it! I kept the dough in the fridge for now cause I have yet to decide what to do with it. But, I cut a small part of the dough to bake just to see if my puff pastry's a success:p


And it was! I shaped the pastry into croissant cause that's the first shape I've thought of. :p And the other one is a diamond-shaped pastry. :) 

Component used for this treat:
Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Friday, 16 April 2010

Almond Orange Cookies

I've been thinking of what to bake, but I can't get any inspiration! I've been searching on the internet for ideas, and I found a cookie recipe at http://www.marthastewart.com/

I love love citrus flavours as well as nuts on desserts. "So what's not to love about this cookie?", I was pondering. "It's a got to be a perfect combo!":)

The smell that was coming out from the oven was divine! The aroma of orange and almond wafted across our apartment! :)

I was right with my assumption. The cookies were delicious! The recipe suggested to roll each cookie on confectioner's sugar; I just dusted them instead. But personally, I love the taste of the cookie on it's own, no need for the powdered sugar... :)

Components used for this dessert treat:
Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Macaron de Paris...Still a Mystery

The result of my sixth try... almost made it :p
Couple of the macarons managed to form incy wincy legs... :p
I was pleased, and wished I had more ingredients to spare for another go. So this morning, I measured the ingredients I have left, and luckily it was just enough. I managed to scrape off enough ingredients for another batch of macarons. :)
I thought it was all going to fall into place until this came out of the oven...
sigh... oh macarons! What is it that I'm not doing right... sigh...
Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Macaron de Paris...

I'm just here to say attempt numbers 3, 4 and 5... FAIL. sigh...
As of now, attempt number 6 is in it's resting stage. I'm sad to say this would be my last try for the mean time. (Funds for ingredients running low)
But, I'm not raising my white flags yet :p batch number 6 has yet to be baked :p so cross fingers...
Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Macaron de Paris... Attempt # 2

So as for my second attempt, it was still unsuccessful... My first attempt, the batter was too runny so it couldn't even hold its shape much when piped out. This time around, the batter was too stiff...
I think that explains the oddly shaped macarons, which my H liked to call macarooms cause they looked a bit like mushrooms :p
Anyway, later today I'm going to go for attempt # 3... wish me luck!:) I hope three times the charm :D
Bisou bisou,
Charlotte

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