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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dobos Torta

Well.. I'm at a loss. This cake had promise.. I was excited about it. First thing I thought about was strawberries. I wanted a strawberry cake with dark chocolate buttercream. And after a chat with a certain French lady I happen to know, I was even more excited because she came up with the solution of how to incorporate strawberries into the cake.. by pulverizing the freeze-dried strawberries I had into a fine power and adding it instead of pureed strawberries because not only would the powder flavor the cake it would color it and not cause it to turn out gray.. works for me, the Queen of Run-On Sentences.

And then I read the recipe and it all went straight to hell.

BUT FIRST! A word from our sponsors... hehe

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 Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.


You see the Baking Gods weren't smiling upon me. Imagine that. I even think they are tired of laughing and pointing at me.. now they just turn their Godly backs towards me. I've bored them with my total lack of improvement in the "folding" arts.

I know how to fold. I was taught IN PERSON by MY GURU. I was taught WELL. But when I am faced with a recipe that is all about fakkin folding, my palms start to sweat. My mouth goes dry. I frown. I know before the spatula touches the batter that I'm going to FAIL. Ohhh and when I read that you have to fold the wet stuff.. AND THEN fold the dry stuff well I about lost the contents of my bladder.

I just can't stop folding.. it's those fakkin white whispy streaks.. I HATE THEM. They MUST BLEND IN DAMMIT. I fear they'll show up in my baked product and ewww who wants white trails through their cake? Not I, my friends. Not I.

So I keep folding.. and folding.. and soon I've got a consistent color with absolutely no fluff. And I look at it, every single time amazed at what I had just done. Like I'm surprised or something. WTF? I can't stop myself. So my batter ended up being about 1/2 of what I believe I should have ended up with.


I went with 3/4 cup for each layer.. and each layer turned out like.. well.. pita bread. Lavash. Rubbery and flaccid. And yet they were also dry as the Mojave. Oh and I only had enough batter for 5 droopy layers. But what the hell, the buttercream will make it all better! Right?

Mmm hmm..

I went with my go-to buttercream recipe.. Jacques Torres' to be exact. Italian Meringue Buttercream. It's to die for. I've made it several times and each time it's come out perfectly. I had no worries. I knew this buttercream was going to save this cake, just like it did the infamous crepe cake of long ago.. *shudder*

Yeah. No.

Apparently, my eggs got too hot. I must have drizzled the sugar syrup in too quickly. I admit I wasn't concentrating on it, since I was full of so much OC (over confidence) - and I know better than that. You'll never make your shot if you've got the OC going on. I learned that in the poolhalls and bars of my younger days.. good times. Good times. Anyhoo.. so I overheated the eggs, so says My Guru. And when you overheat your eggs, your buttercream doesn't stay fluffy after you add the butter.. instead it turns into a thick glaze. Horse Pucky!!

I threw it in the fridge overnight.. and THANK THE BABY JEBUS it didn't separate or deflate even more.. it turned out okay.. other than it melts the second room temperature air hits it. But that's okay, it tastes so good that I could eat it on a cake or drink it through a straw.. makes no nevermind to me. Keep in mind, I haven't had buttercream or any kind of cake for 3 months now. I could bathe in the stuff and be a happy woman.


So I frosted (HAR!) my strawberry flatbread cake layers after I brushed them with strawberry syrup and called it DONE. No caramel. Oohh hells no. There just wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that I was going to f*ck with the Baking Gods a third time. Sorry, kids. Lissee knows when to scream UNCLE.

The cake was excellent if you like chocolate buttercream covered crackers. There was no strawberry taste whatsoever. The texture was so far off that I really can't even call this a cake. It was more like a molded hunk of buttercream with cracker-like separators. I ended up peeling the "cake" off the buttercream and yes, I ate all of the buttercream. ALL OF IT. And my slice was sliverish (not like the hunk I cut for my horrible photos), yet I'll wager it weighed 3 pounds. You just have to appreciate the miracle of butter, sugar and chocolate.

There were way too many amazed and happy Daring Bakers for me to think this was just a bad cake. No, I know it's a damn good recipe, I just blew it. Again. Gah. Many thanks to both Angela and Lorraine, they were fabulous hostesses and this was a great challenge! Not one I'll repeat, thankyouverymuch. :P But it really was a great challenge, we learned techniques and were still given enough leeway for creativity to make these cakes our own. Well done, girls! :)

So do yourselves a favor and leave this blog now.. run far, far away from it and check out the Daring Baker blogroll to find hundreds of gorgeous and tasty cakes to drool over!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Rice with Mushrooms, Squid and Artichokes

This month we were all treated to learn how to make an authentic Spanish meal that was time consuming, but easy and so worth the hours of slow cooking. Olga of Las Cosas de Olga and Olga's Recipes, was our hostess and wow, what an amazing job she did! Thank you so much, Olga! :)

I really don't have much to say about the recipe, other than it truly was delicious and it made my house smell amazing. I followed the recipe almost exactly - my only changes were to caramelize my onions slowly over low heat for about an hour before adding the rest of the veggies for the Sofregit, I used canned fire roasted diced tomatoes instead of fresh because our garden tomatoes aren't ready yet and I refuse to buy the tasteless tomatoes from the grocery store.

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Oh and I used squid instead of the cuttlefish that was the original seafood ingredient, just because you'd have a better chance of meeting Elvis at the local library than you would of finding cuttlefish at the grocery stores/fish markets in these parts. ;)

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I really took my time with the Sofregit.. mainly because of what other members were saying about theirs and I knew it'd make way too much for what the recipe called for, so I wanted the remainder to be really concentrated in flavor so I could use it to spread of bruschetta for a lil get together I'm having in a few weeks. And I'm glad I did, that stuff is amazing. I'm almost thinking of just serving it in a big bowl with a loaf of crusty bread torn up around it so people can just dip.. YUM.

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I was concerned, initially, about rubbery squid. From many past experiences I know that you've got two choices with squid - cooked quickly, or cooked for hours and you will get tender slices.. cooked in between those two times and you're just asking for a mouth full of rubber. Although you don't cook the squid for tooooooo long in this dish, it's longer that what I've had success with in the past and much, much shorter of a time than my dad's Christmas Calamari sauce that I cherish. But to my surprise it came out super tender! It was fantastic!

I used Arborio rice since we needed a short grain rice and it made the dish extra creamy and delicious. This is definitely a dish that needs a good starchy short grain rice to give it an extra kick of wonderfulness. I now realize why the paella I made years ago was just "okay" instead of really good like this dish. I used regular long grain rice that I always have in my pantry. Now I'm rarin' to make Paella again using the Arborio. I'm looking forward! :)

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If you like Spanish cuisine, I highly recommend this dish. Try it! :D

Check out the other Daring Cooks' versions of this recipe.. I guarantee you'll be listing the ingredients on a grocery list in the not too distant future. ;)

xoxo

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