Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sans Rival (DB)

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Baker’s host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

With all the cooking and backing involved with the Thanksgiving holiday, I only had time to make the Sans Rival cake. “Sans rival” means “without rival” and any Filipino will argue with you that this is true. Although it’s one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines, its origins are certainly French. In the 1920’s to 30’s there were many Filipinos who went abroad to study. A good number went to France and learned many French cooking techniques which they then brought home. A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting. I went the traditional route with cashews, but the non-traditional route by making mine chocolate based.

The recipe really isn't more difficult than any other layered cake.  In fact, it's a little easier because each layer is baked as is so you don't even need to halve the layers and worry about slicing them perfectly!  It's basically meringue with crushed nuts folded in, then layered with buttercream.

It was fun to make, but I have to be honest and say that it didn't really "wow" me.  I like cashews but wasn't a big fan of a cashew flavored cake.  Perhaps almonds or peanuts would have been a better choice for me? Both my parents thought the cake was good, while my husband didn't really care for it.  So I guess it just depends on who you ask!

Thanks Catherine, for hosting this month's challenge.  Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this Filipino cake!

Sans Rival
from Catherine of Munchie Musings 

10 large egg whites, room temp
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted cashews


Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.

1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)
4. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.
(Note the more finely ground for folding into meringue. The coarsely ground for is decoration of finished cake.)
5. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.
7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream:

5 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like

1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins). Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.


Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a
thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of
buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and
sides. Decorate with reserved nuts.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. It is easier to cut cold. May freeze.

Yield: 12 Servings

• Brushing the parchment paper with some oil will help you to peel it off after the dacquoise is baked.
• Do not grind the nuts down to a fine flour/powder. This recipe is better with the nuts in a grainy/sandy grind.
• It is important to peel off the parchment within a couple of minutes of it coming out of the oven. Certainly while it is still warm.
• After you’ve removed the paper, return it into the warm oven to dry out more as the oven is cooling down. You want crunchy layers.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ginger Jazzed Brownies and Fall Butternut Squash Pie (TWD)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with lots of good eats and sweet treats! We had a pretty impressive spread at our house, and of course we're still enjoying leftovers today.

This week we're posting for Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) on Friday.  This was to allow everyone the time to get ready for Thanksgiving.  There was no specific recipe chosen for this week, we were simply given the liberty to do a "rewind," meaning we could go back and bake a recipe from the past that we may have missed.  I'll be posting about the Ginger Jazzed Brownies and the Depths-of-Fall Butternut Squash Pie.

The ginger jazzed brownies were actually chosen by Hindy of Bubie’s Little Baker as the recipe of the week for October 18 and I made them a few weeks ago.  I just never got around to posting about them! I didn't have any fresh ginger on hand, so I added extra ground ginger to the brownies, as Dorie suggested.  My brownies came out with very little ginger flavor to them, which was a big disappointment because I love ginger.  I had contemplated adding in chopped candied/crystallized ginger to the brownies, and should have... because I munched on some while eating these brownies and found that the ginger and chocolate flavors together were great.  So, next time I make these, I will definitely add in chopped crystallized ginger instead of fresh ginger.  Otherwise, these brownies were super moist and dense like you would expect brownies to be.

The Fall Butternut Squash Pie was chosen by Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. I am not a big butternut squash fan, but I still wanted to try this pie because that's what TWD is all about - trying recipes you wouldn't otherwise try. So, I made this one for Thanksgiving. Aside from the butternut squash, this pie is filled with pears, brown sugar, spices, walnuts, and raisins (or dried cranberries or diced apples).

This pie was met with mixed reviews. I really didn't care for it much. I think I would have liked it better if there had been more sugar in it because I think it was lacking in sweetness. My mom thought it was good, but attributed that to the fact that there was a lot of other filling ingredients besides squash. I think if it had a little bit less squash and lots of pears and apples, it would be very good. Just enough to have a hint of squash in it, but not overwhelmingly squashy ;)

If you're interested, head on over here for the Ginger Jazzed Brownies recipe and here for the Fall Butternut Squash Pie recipe.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Favorites

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just less than one week away? I sure can't. Of course my favorite part of Thanksgiving (aside from gathering all together with my family), is the delicious food :) I only put a little bit of everything on my plate, and yet somehow I always end up stuffed! I don't know what it is about Thanksgiving food, but it is always hard not to want to eat all of it!

Here's a roundup of some of my favorite fall treats that I've made over the years; all of these would be perfect to bring to your Thanksgiving table. Hope you'll try one or two of them, and come back to tell you me what you thought of them!

(And if you haven't already, click here to see how you can earn a $10 Amazon gift card for FREE!)

sorry, no blog post about this one yet but it is a great stuffing recipe

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Get a Free $10 Amazon Gift Card

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Alsatian Apple Tart (TWD)

I am back with Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) and will be back to posting weekly with the group from now until the end of the year.  Even though we're down to the last few recipes in the book, we've got a lot of great recipes lined up. Believe it or not, we'll be done baking through the entire book by the end of the year! Isn't that crazy?!

This week's TWD recipe was chosen by Jessica of Cookbook Habit: Alsatian Apple Tart.  It is a tart lined with "thick slices of sweet apples and a vanilla-flavored mix of eggs, cream and sugar that is poured over the apples and, under heat, transformed into a soft custard."

When I think of custard filled tarts, I think of fruit tarts that are topped with fruits like strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, blueberries, etc.  I have never had a custard fruit tart with apples! Interestingly enough, the rich and creamy custard that envelopes the apples is absolutely delicious.  I think the tart would be great with pears, too, which Dorie suggests in the "Playing Around" section.

I only added one egg and omitted the extra egg yolk in the custard, just because I didn't want to have another egg white in my freezer.  The custard was still rich despite this omission thanks to the heavy cream.  Only thing I would do differently next time would be to remember to put my pie crust shield on the tart sooner! I forgot and didn't realize the edges were burning until I started to smell it! (That's why you don't see a picture of the entire tart!)

Thanks, Jessica, for hosting this week! I love baked apple desserts and this one was no exception.

* Recipe notes:
- Make sure to put a pie crust shield (or some foil) around the edge of your tart about 20 minutes into baking to avoid burning the edges.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Povitica (DB)

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat! It is a specialty bread that normally costs $25 a loaf! Yes, $25!

Yes, I know it's November and October is long gone, but I am so terribly behind in my blogging.  I actually finished this dessert bread before the posting deadline and have several other things I have made that I just haven't gotten around to blogging about! Please bear with me as I get back into my blogging groove.... being sick for most of September and part of October just threw me for a loop and then the last week I was very very busy making a super special birthday cake for my daughter (post to come)!

So on to the challenge... this dessert bread was different from anything I've tried before, but certainly delicious.  You basically make your regular yeast dough, then roll it out super thin (kind of like making phyllo dough) and then add in whatever filling you like.  Then you roll it up like you would a cinnamon roll and coil it up onto itself into a loaf pan.  The result is a beautiful spiral filled dessert bread.
We were given the liberty to either fill our bread with an English walnut filling, or the filling of our choice... and since I don't really like nuts I went with a cinnamon apple filling.  I browned some butter and brown sugar in a pan, sauteed the apples, and then layered them into the bread with cinnamon and sugar.  I didn't have enough apples at home (only 3) so my filling was a little scarce, and I would definitely add more next time. 

When I first removed my pan from the oven, there were lots of juices from the baked apples bubbling in the pan.  I found, however, that after leaving the pan out overnight that most of it had been soaked up by the bread, making it oh so gooey and delicious. It almost tasted like cinnamon apple cinnamon rolls but with thin layered dough.

Thanks Jenni, for hosting this month's challenge.  Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else this specialty bread!

(makes 4 loaves)


To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
½ Cup (120ml) Warm Water
2 Tablespoons (30ml/14 gm/½ oz/2 sachets) Dry Yeast

2 Cups (480ml) Whole Milk
¾ Cup (180 ml/170gm/6 oz) Sugar
3 Teaspoons (15 ml/18 gm/2/3 oz) Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup (120ml/115 gm/one stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups (1.92 l/1.12 kg/39½ oz/2½ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

Walnut Filling:
7 Cups (1.68 l/1.12 kg/2.5 lbs) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (240ml) Whole Milk
1 Cup (240ml/225 gm/2 sticks/8 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (5ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (480ml/450 gm/16 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon

½ Cup (120 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
2 Tablespoons (30 ml/28 gm/1 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes

To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.

6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.

7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour

8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
9. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.

To Make the Filling
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.

To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.

19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.

23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.

24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.

25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
26. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

Smaller batch measurements courtesy of Audax
Half Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes two loaves each 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 ½ gm) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
¼ Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast

1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
2 Large Eggs
¼ Cup (60 ml/60 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/19¾ oz/1¼ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

¼ Cup (60 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/½ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter

Half Batch Filling Ingredients (enough filling for the two loaves(
3½ Cups (840 ml/560 gm/1¼ lb/20 oz) Ground English Walnuts
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/1 stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Whole Egg, Beaten
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup (240 ml/225 gm/8 oz) Sugar
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) Cinnamon

Quarter Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2¼ gm) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/3½ gm/0.125 oz/½ sachet) Dry Yeast

½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) Sugar
¾ Teaspoon (3¾ ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided

2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/7 gm/¼ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter