Tag Archives: daring kitchen

Daring kitchen challenge

29 Mar

Do you know the Daring Kitchen website?  If you like a challenge, and you love cooking, then this is the site for you.  Go google it. (i’d put in a linky thing, but I seem to have lost the ability to do that).

Anyway, the March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

It was awesome.  It was something I would NEVER have attempted, but in reality it was actually pretty straightforward to make. So, thank you Daring Kitchen for encouraging me to make this scrumptious cakey thing.

My instruction was to make two cakes, but I just made the one.  This is the recipe for making the one cake, approx 10” in diameter.   I have included the alternative filling ingredients at the end… and I think I might try this alternative version in the next couple of weeks.  After I’ve moved flat.


The Daring Baker's finished product



Not sure why it’s called a coffee cake, there is no coffee in it. Perhaps it’s a technical term for a cake made with yeast?  Any thoughts anyone?


For the yeast cake dough:

2 cups (300 g / 12oz) flour
1/8 cup (25 g / 1 oz.) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½  sachet (1 tsp) active dried yeast
3/8 cup (90 ml / 3 fl. oz.) whole milk
1/8 cup (30 ml / 1 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
¼ cup (65 g / 2.5oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg at room temperature

For the meringue:

2 egg whites at room temperature
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

½ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
1 Tbsp (15 g / ½ oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (85 g / 3 oz.) dark chocolate, chopped roughly

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes


Prepare the dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/3 cups of the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast.
  • In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.
  • With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and ½ cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the remaining flour) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured, adding extra flour as needed.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (probably about 45 – 60 minutes). The rising time will depend on the type of yeast used and the temperature of the room


Beating the dough

The lovely smooth, silky dough, before it's started rising

Prepare your filling:

  • In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. Chop your chocolate and nuts, and keep them in separate bowls.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:

  • Beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.
  • Add the vanilla then start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.
  • Spread the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the meringue.
  • Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal.
  • Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
  • Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
  • Cover the cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Brush the top of the cake with the egg wash.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
  • Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto the table. Very gently loosen the cake from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cake onto a cooling rack.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar and cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. I forgot to do this and it didn’t seem to mar the enjoyment of the cake.

These cakes are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day, although I quite liked it as it got slightly chewier after a day or two.  But ok, best on the day it’s made.  Warm with ice cream.  Oh yes!

For the other version you will need 10 strands saffron for the dough.  (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg.)

Ria’s version filling:
1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below – or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)
1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)


**Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow.

4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll)
3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole
100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds
4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns
25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods

In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.


My first Daring Bakers Challenge

3 Mar

I’ve recently discovered more food-related blogs than is good for me.  I like to browse them, see what other people are cooking around the world and pick up inspiration.

And then I discovered the Daring Kitchen.  This is a blog with a difference – each month we are all challenged to make a particular recipe.  This month was my first Daring Bakers Challenge, and I’ve actually done it!  I’m so excited.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I had a practice run of the Panna Cotta last weekend at the valley, a delicious vanilla panna cotta, with a coffee gelee.  And then separately I practiced the florentines, here in Bruntsfield. They were lovely, but hadn’t spread properly and it felt the recipe should have had some bicarbonate of soda to make them work.  Never mind, my colleagues loved them.

So, the final version is a chocolate panna cotta, with orange gelee; accompanied by orange florentines. It all looks pretty tasty, and if you like bitter chocolate and orange together then you’ll love this.

I slightly adapted the recipes. And hope the next challenge is slightly less fattening.  I suspect I hope in vain.

Chocolate Panna Cotta

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract


  1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
  3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
  4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
  5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

Nestle Florentine Cookies

Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter

2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) golden syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate


Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
1. Warm the butter, sugar and syrup in a medium saucepan.  Stir together to form a gloopy thick syrup, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter mixture add oats, flour, milk, vanilla, and salt. I also added 1 tsp bicarb of soda.  And replaced the vanilla with the grated zest of two oranges.  Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula. I didn’t bother flattening the mixture and they managed to spread themselves out nicely enough.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets.
4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.
This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

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