Sunday, 28 December 2008

Daring Bakers - A French Yule Log

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

They presented us with a document 18 pages long.. yes you read that right! Don't worry i will not be replicating that here as much of it was various different options we could try.

The basic idea is that of a multi - layered frozen desert. There are six different layers and we were given options for all of them but we had to do all six in some form.

The layers are
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing

I opted for a hazelnut Dacquoise Biscuit, dark chocolate mousse, white chocolate ganache, a crisp made with maple corn flakes (gluten free of course) and hazelnuts, a vanilla creme brulee and a dark chocolate icing.

The recipe as I made is is at the bottom of the post.
This picture is of the biscuit layer and my eeepc (a very small and portable laptop) one of the reasons for getting it was so I didn't have to print pages of recipes out for these challenges !

I had to make several sections over more than once mostly as I seemed to be having a bad sugar day.

I made the creme brulee first and that didn't really go according to the recipe. I cooked it in a water bath and after 1 & 1/2 hours it was still liquid round the edges though firm in the middle so I gave it another 20 mins without the bath and at a slightly higher temp. It worked OK but developed a skin in places which was not as good a texture as I would have liked though it wasn't noticeable in the final dish.

The biscuit layer worked well as did the crisp layer.

The mousse came out fine though i over whipped the cream as I was distracted at the wrong moment (UK double cream has a very high fat content and can whip very solid). I am not convinced about the Pate a Bombe as mostly that seemed to result in lots of sugar coating my whisk rather than anything else but after the second attempt (the first time I over cooked the sugar) it seemed to work, certainly the end result worked well.
This is the first four sections of the recipe before they were put together. The ganache is made cone these are frozen and the icing just before it is put on.

The ganache was really nice coming out a caramel colour and being quite sweet it cut the very dark chocolate mousse quite well

The icing I really liked. Many people had problems with the gelatine making it rubbery but I used sheets which I suspect helped as the amount was more precise than powder and it was great. I shall use that again as it was nice and glossy. Shame my log was rather lumpy under it you can see where each layer of moose was piped as it was so solid it didn't spread to fill the gaps. Next time I will find the acetate sheets so I can line the mould with that rather than cling film and push down on the mousse slightly to fill in any gaps at each level.

This is the recipe as I made it.
Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) hazelnut meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) icing sugar
2Tbsp (15g) GF flour
3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the icing sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the hazelnut meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remaining cream till stiff
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 White Chocolate Ganache Insert
Picture shows both the first rather burnt tasting try and the second more successful one!
Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’
s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

Element #4 Crisp Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan,
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin

3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup
1oz corn flakes and a handful of crushed hazelnuts.

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the golden syrup and the coarsely crushed corn flakes, nuts. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

The remains of this were rapidly eaten on it's own and declared very good.!

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.

4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

***We found the Creme Brulee took longer to defrost than everything else and the whole thing worked better after being in the fridge for several hours rather than the 1/2 hour as suggested above. I had no problem with my moose melting or so forth.***

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Weekly Menu 15th - 19th Dec 2008

Mediterranean meatloaf from last week, very yummy!!

Ark sorry late this week, still got various ill people at home it just seems to cycle round who it is. Nothing serious but poor old Noodles is missing his Christmas concert today, he is currently singing the songs for it behind me.

Monday - chips from the chipshop

Tuesday - pasta and sauce based on a fresh salsa we have that needs eating and should make a good sauce base !

Wednesday - beef stew

Thursday - rice and stuff

Friday - Most of the day will probably be taken with making this month's Daring Baker challenge to take to the grandparents for the weekend so we will be having snack food that can be eaten in the car on the way down to them after school and nursery.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

menu 8th - 12th Dec 2008 - what we actually had

Well this week went rather differently than I planned but in some ways better so I thought I'd post it up.

Monday - Soup and cheese scones. Scones were home made the soup bought in from the local farmers market, his whole range is gluten free and we had a very nice leek, potato and cheddar cheese one with a little crispy bacon to top it off.

Noodles had some scones as lunch the next day. He likes the Dairy lee stacker packs so I made him a home made version with mini scones sliced in half, some slices of ham and baby tomatoes which seemed to go down well.

Tuesday - ended up picking up some discounted fish and turkey so we had pollock on sliced boiled potatoes with a king prawn, pepper, kale and cream sauce, which was very nice. Plus a cooked chicken for lunches.

Wensday - Mediterranean meatloaf following a recipe posted on the gluten free recipes yahoo group which Carrie from Ginger Lemon Girl runs.. It's an extremely nice turkey based meatloaf with sundried tomatoes and a spinach and feta filling.. still enough for another meal too. Definetly a keeper recipe. Served with boiled potatoes, mashed swede and cabbage.

Thursday - chicken (remains of cooked chicken from Tuesday) and bacon Frittata using some cooked potatoes from Wensday, some extra peppers and tomatoes plus obviously a bunch of eggs and a little milk.

Friday - Pizza.. Mine topped with spinach, feta and bacon.. lovely !

Friday, 12 December 2008

Viennese fancies

Viennese fancies are one of my favourite biscuits and I've been saying for ages I should try making some but haven't got round to it. Then I saw some mince-pies topped with them and decided that they looked too good not to try and replicate GF.

If you haven't come across Viennese fancies they are a buttery whirl shaped biscuit, you normally get two sandwiched together with jam or jam and buttercream and sometimes half dipped in chocolate.

The various recipes I've found always have the same amount of flour and butter and a smaller amount of sugar however the exact proportions vary so I went with one which had a smaller amount of sugar. Also many recipes use half cornflour and half plain flour which makes it more likely that GF flour will work (why didn't I look at this recipe earlier??) The biscuit is meant to be very short and crumbly.

So I made up a small batch (which then got even smaller when I dropped about 1/3 of it on the floor !) Still it was enough to make 4 complete biscuits ie 8 halves. To try them out I sandwiched them with a little jam as my main plan is to use them as a mince pie topping not in the traditional way.. at least for now.. chocolate dipped ones may happen at some point too!

They worked pretty well so now I need to decide on the pastry base. I've seen them with a standard shortcrust but also found a recipe for Viennese topped ones using a shortbread crust. Watch here for the second instalment ie the mince pies themselves.
Viennese Fancies

3 ounces (75g) butter
1 ounce (25g) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
3 ounces (75g) GF flour
Few drops vanilla essence
Strawberry jam (for filling)
Pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar and vanilla essence together until it is light and fluffy.

Sieve flour and salt together then add to the creamed mixture gradually. Beat well after each addition until the mixture is smooth.

Using a big star pipe, pipe stars of approximately 1¼ inch (3cm) diameter and no more than 1/8th inch (6mm) high onto a baking/cookie sheet on a baking tray . Or pipe short lengths of dough. The mix is quite stiff so the piping end needs to be a big open one such as you designed for biscuits or potato not an traditional icing one.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the middle shelf of a preheated oven at 375F (190C or Gas Mark 5). Be careful you want to catch them just before they start colouring.. mine went slightly too brown round the edges but this is a biscuit you want to be pale not browned.

Spread a small amount of strawberry jam between the flat sides of two "whirls" to make them stick together. Dust with icing sugar or dip about a third of each Viennese fancy (with jam between them) in chocolate which has been melted slowly in a bowl heated in hot water.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Burmese Curry

Sorry about the funny colours it was late at night and I didn't have the time or brain power to get a better pic.

Originally from some bumper book of asian recipes a housemate owned years ago.

This uses huge amounts of ginger and garlic but the flavour while strong is much more mellow that you might expect because of the cooking time.

4lb meat - have used pork and beef at different times. While this will make basic meat taste good using really good meat is worth it as you do taste the difference though you can use a cut that needs slow cooking which keeps the price reasonable.
2 large or 4 medium onions, chopped
20 cloves of garlic
1 cup peeled, chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vinegar
1-2 tsp chilli powder
3/4 cup peanut or basic oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1tsp turmeric powder

Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes. Put onions, garlic, ginger into a blender and blend well. Put in a strainer over a bowl and push with the back of a spoon to get as much liquid out as possible. Pour the liquid into a big pan, add meat, salt, vinegar, chilli powder and half the basic oil. Bring to boil then cover and simmer over a low heat for an hour or so till meat is tender.

Meanwhile in a heavy based pan heat the remaining basic oil and sesame oil. When really hot add the mush left in the strainer from earlier, add turmeric, stir and cook over a low heat, covered, stirring regularly. Cook till smell has mellowed and onions are transparent. you want all the water content to evaporate and the paste to turn red-brown with oil showing round the edges which takes about 25 mins. Add a bit of water if needed to stop it sticking. Halfway through spoon some oil from the meat pan into the paste.

When both are cooked combine and keep cooking till there is no liquid and the oil separates out again.

Serve with rice and vegs.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Menu 8th - 12th Dec 2008

Well the weekend has been a bit slow. We continue with low level illness here. Himself still has a cold which doubles him up coughing and Treestump has been under the weather and running a bit of a temperature at time. I think it might be teething as much as anything.

We had a lovely meal yesterday which was very simple, just carrots, parsnips and swede cut into biggish chunks tossed in a little oil then roasted in the oven with lamb chops put on top halfway through. Served with peas. it was really pleasant particularly after spending an hour or two on the allotment trying to put the glass in the green house. We have broken several panes either when we took it down at mums or now putting it back up. With luck (ie we don't break any more) we have enough to do the side windows but most of the roof is gone.. So I think I'm going to get enough persex to fill in the gaps on one side with the remaining glass and do a wood and felt roof on the other side which gives a little shade but not much. I stopped washing the glass down when the water started freezing as it out in on the windows!

This week Asparagus thin is hosting the menu swap. She has picked a bitter taste as her ingredient and goes on to list lots of brassicas many of which I love and don't find bitter. One I do find rather bitter but himself loves is brussel sprouts and we have a couple of bags currently as they have started to appear in our veg box so I'm going to try a rosti version of a British classic bubble and squeak.

This weeks menu is a bit dependant on how people feel but will go something like this.

Monday - bermese curry with broccilli and rice.

Tuesday - soup and scones

Wednesday - sausages with bubble and squeak rosti using brussel sprouts

Thursday - tomato and eggs

Friday - stew and dumplings.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Chocolate Brownies.

I realised I've never put this recipe up so here it is for all those people who ask me for it.


Based a a Nigel Slater recipe and inspired by Ryton Organic gardens cafe.

Makes a very large baking tray full, cut recipe in half if you don't plan to give half away though it does keep fairly well unlike most gluten free baking.
This is the only recipe I have found soya flour improves normally I dislike it.

600g golden caster sugar
500g butter
500g chocolate, as dark and high in cocoa as possible.
7 large eggs
120g soya flour
120g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder

Set the oven to 180C/Gas 4
Grease and line with baking parchment one very large roasting tin or
two medium ones.

Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy, much easier
in a mixer than by hand.

Break 400g of the chocolate into pieces and melt in a double boiler or
microwave till melted. Chop the rest into smallish rough pieces ( I
often replace this with white chocolate).

Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl. Sift together the flour, cocoa and
baking powder.

Running the mixer slowly add the egg a bit at a time, beating in well
before adding the next bit, speed up the mixer to do this. Then remove
the bowl from the machine and mix in both the melted and chopped
chocolate, with a large metal spoon. Finally fold in the flour mix
making sure not to knock the air out of the mix.

Scrape into the tin and cook for about 30 mins till it is set round
the edges and still a bit sticky in the middle but not raw. It will
solidify a bit as it cools and if you cook too long half of it will be
too dry.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Menu 1st - 5th Dec 2008

We have had rather a run of people being ill with colds and sickness bugs and now I'm feeling worse for wear but I'm not sure if it's a bug or something I ate, dehydration or something... we had a great weekend at my aunts 60th birthday celebrations but for all her and the hotels efforts I'm not sure I didn't eat something I shouldn't have. On the way home I developed a huge headache which got so bad I ended up throwing up and I still feel heady with a rough stomach today.

That being the case and the fact himself is on late shifts today the menu is going to be quick and easy dishes we can cook without thought.

This weeks host for the gluten free menu swap is Heart of Cooking and they chose persimmons as the ingredient of the week. I've never tried them so if I am feeling up to it and can find one I may try them later in the week. Either way check out her blog to see what everyone else is cooking and to see her very intriguing upside down cake.

Monday - Burgers and chips and salad

Tuesday - pasta with tomato and veggy sauce

Wensday - Baked potato with various toppings including tuna and sweetcorn and cheese

Thursday - rice and stuff (ie rice with various added bits, vegs, meat etc)

Friday - Cauliflower cheese

I thought I'd explain a bit about our cauliflower cheese as we often have it on the menu and I know for some people it s a side dish. Thing is we add a lot more to it than just cauliflower and cheese so it really is a complete meal.

The picture at the top of this post is the final dish.

This picture is of the three main stages. Cauliflower and broccoli which we steam or boil till just soft. various vegs and bits fried off including this time leek, peppers and some left over gammon though we don't always add meat. Finally a cheese sauce made from GF flour, butter, milk, a little mustard powder and grated cheese. I can't give amounts as we just make it by eye but as long as it is thicker than milk ad still thin enough to pour pretty much any consistancy of sauce works.

The vegs are all mixed together in a dish deep enough for a layer of cauliflower florets to sit well. Then they are covered with the cheese sauce and more grated cheese and baked in an oven at 200C for about 30 mins..