Daring Bakers August: Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

This will be a short post, cause there's simply too much going on right now. Let's just say this was a delicious challenge! I made the Baked Alaska with apple ice cream, the brown butter pound cake as written and then covered the whole thing in vanilla flavored meringue.

Markus is in Beijing at the moment and has the camera with him so this post will be updated with photos when he gets back has now been updated with pictures. Yes, I'm definitely making this one again! Thank you Elissa for a wonderful challenge!

For recipes and to see the other Daring Bakers' creations, head over to the Daring Kitchen!

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)*
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

*You can make 1 cup of cake flour by placing 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a 1 cup measure, and filling to the top with all purpose flour.

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions

1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.


Daring Cooks Augusti: Pierogi

Woohoo, the Deer Eaters are finally Daring Cooks again. Sorry about neglecting the blog so much lately, there simply has been too much other stuff going on. And what better way is there to finally be back in the Daring business, than to totally misread the challenge?
The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.
For some reason (and I can't understand why, because it's all there, right in the first few paragraphs of the challenge presentation post on the private Daring Cooks' forum) I misunderstood the challenge. Not going to elaborate on why and how, but the fact is that we didn't make the challenge recipe. Sorry about that! We did, however, make pierogi. Two different kinds. I hope that makes up for misreading the challenge.

First up, Karelian pierogi, a Finnish specialty. We made these because they're delicious and because Markus is half Finnish, so that kind of represents his locale, or something. Anyway, maybe they're not pierogi in the challenge sense of the word (Wikipedia calls them Karelian pasties) but let's not dwell on that. These pierogi are made from a thin rye crust and filled with rice porridge. I know I know, it sounds weird and to be honest not very tasty, but trust me, they are good! The hardest part about making Karelian pierogi is cooking the rice porridge - it takes forever and the porridge always get burnt in the bottom of the pot. Luckily, there's a handy solution for that in Swedish grocery stores: ready made rice porridge in sausage form!

No it's not really a sausge, just rice porridge packaged in a plastic tube.
By the way, you can get yellow pea soup packaged the same way.

The next pierogi we made were more traditional, although oven-baked instead of boiled. For that local touch we filled them with ground moose and chantarelles. A note on the recipe, we found these a bit dry, so if you want to make them you might want to add some sort of liquid to the filling.

To see what the other Daring Cooks made, head over to the Daring Kitchen where you can also find the original recipe!

Karelian Pierogi

makes about 20

50 g butter
5 dl rye and wheat flour mix (Sw. rågsikt)
1½ tsp salt
2 dl water

For the rice porridge filling:
1½ dl round grain rice (Sw. grötris)
½ tsp salt
3 dl water
7 dl milk
...or use ready-made rice porridge (Sw. risgrynsgröt)

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water

Start with making the filling. Let rice, salt and water simmer under a lid for ten minutes without stirring. Add the milk, stir and bring to a boil. Simmer very slowly under a lid for about 40 minutes. Watch closely so it doesn't burn! Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
OR, as I said, skip this step and use ready-made!

Heat the oven to 175-300°C.

Cut the butter into small cubes, add the flour and use you fingers to make a crumbly dough. Add salt and water and work into a uniform dough. If it's to loose, add more flour, if it's too hard, add more water. Spread some flour over your work surface, and roll the dough out into a long roll. Cut it into about 20 pieces. Use a rolling pin to turn each piece into an thin oval. Put a heap of rice porridge in the middle and fold up the edges around it (see picture). Transfer to a parchment-covered baking sheet. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes, lower the heat if it looks like they get done too fast.

Melt the butter, add the water and heat. Brush the piergoi with melted butter as soon as they are out of the oven. Let them cool covered with a cloth (although I think they are best eaten warm).

Pierogi with moose and chantarelle filling

makes about 12

25 g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
3 dl luke warm water
2 tbsp oil
1 egg
9 dl flour

For the filling:
2 yellow onions (medium sized)
Oil and butter
100 g fresh chanterelles
500 g ground moose
2 tbsp tomato puré
1 tbsp concentrated vegetable stock
black pepper
1 egg for the egg wash

Crumble the yeast into a big bowl, add salt and some of the water and stir to dissolve. Add the rest of the water, oil, egg and finally the flour. Work into a dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes while you make the filling.

Finely chop the onions. Cut down the chanterelles into smaller pieces. Heat oil and butter in a pan and fry the onions and chanterelles until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Add a little more oil and butter and brown the ground meat. Add the onions and chanterelles, tomato puré and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Let the filling cool.

Heat the oven to 225°C. Knead the dough a little and roll it out into 12 large ovals. Put 3-4 tbsp of filling on the middle of the dough. Brush the edges lighly with water to make the dough stick together, fold the dough over the filling and press down with a fork to seal and make a decorative pattern around the edges. Transfer to parchment covered baking sheets and let the pierogi rest for about 25 minutes. Brush with egg wash. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes. Let the pierogi cool under a cloth. They freeze really well, just heat them a little in the oven before eating.


Daring Bakers June: Chocolate Pavlova

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.
Paired with fresh Swedish strawberries and cherries, this was the perfect dessert for our Midsummer's Eve dinner. Midsummer is a big deal in Sweden and there are a lot of "musts" and traditions and expectations coupled with it, which I really don't like. So we decided to do Midsummer our own way - with a delicious, untraditional dinner consisting of Atlantic catfish poached in beurre montée (recipe to come) and then the Daring Bakers challenge as dessert.

We started a few days early by making mascarpone using the recipe from the February Tiramisu challenge. The actual challenge then had four parts: chocolate meringue, chocolate mascarpone mousse and a Crème Anglaise which was used in a mascarpone cream.

The meringue recipe was really good. Besides flat meringue shells for the Pavlovas, we also made decorative choclate meringue tops. The batter held its shape very well and allowed for some really high piping.

The Crème Anglaise was easy as well. But the chocolate mousse, well that's another story...

What went wrong? We used Lindt chocolate which I believe is decent quality. Can somebody tell us why we got grainy goo and a lot of oil? Into the trash it went and we made a second attempt (good thing we had bought too much chocolate). The second try threatened to end up the same way, but somehow we saved it although it still was a bit grainy.

The mascarpone cream also looked weird to begin with but ended up fluffy and delicious. And bountiful, which means we got to dip strawberries in it today, and there is still enough left for an apple pie tomorrow!

All in all, we really liked this challenge. By themselves, the parts weren't spectacular (especially the chocolate mousse where the flavor didn't seem to match the amount of work it took), but the sum of them can be summed up in the word YUM!

Thank you Dawn! Please visit the Daring Kitchen for recipes, a look at the other Daring Bakers' creations and lots of other good stuff.

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse

Chocolate Meringue:

3 large egg whites
110 grams white granulated sugar
30 grams confectioner’s (icing) sugar
30 grams cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse:

355 mls heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1 average sized lemon
255 grams 72% chocolate, chopped
390 mls mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

Put 120 mls of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (Do not overbeat as the mascarpone will break!)
Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.

Mascarpone Cream:

1 recipe crème anglaise
120 mls mascarpone
2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)
120 mls heavy cream

Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):

235 mls whole milk
235 mls heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp (75 grams) sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
Pour about 1 dl of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not overcook!
Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.

Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.


Daring Bakers May: Croquembouche, or Piece Montée

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
I had never heard of a Croquembouche ("crunch in the mouth") before but when I started reading the recipe that hey, this is essentially a dessert made up of éclairs, and who doesn't love those? At least I do! I hand the mike to our host this month, Cat from Little Miss Cupcake:
The classic piece montée is a high pyramid/cone made of profiteroles (cream-filled puff pastries) sometimes dipped in chocolate, bound with caramel, and usually decorated with threads of caramel, sugared almonds, chocolate, flowers, or ribbons. Modern pastry chefs have taken to assembling this dessert in all manners of shapes and sizes, and you should feel free to express your creativity too!
As (almost) ususal we made this in the very last minute, so being elaborate and creative wasn't really an option. We went traditional: the choux were filled with vanilla pastry cream and we decorated our (not very high and neither cone nor pyramid shaped) piece montée with dark chocolate.

We made a whole batch which, in hindsight (*pats very full belly*) wasn't too smart - these things are rich, people! But oh so so delicious!

The whole thing wasn't very complicated at all - we were a bit worried when our choux was in the oven because they didn't seem to puff up at all at first, but that was an unfounded worry. We didn't have enough pastry cream to fill all the choux (good thing) so we will definitely try some savory experiments with those left over. We tried one filled with the sauce we had with dinner tonight (dinner was oven-poached char with lemon, dill and white wine, served with boiled potatoes, sugar snap peas, and a sauce made of sour cream, dill and red caviar) and it was really nice with a savory flavor as well. That sauce together with some smoked salmon would be really nice for a savory choux, especially if you flavor the dough with some herbs.

Thanks Cat for a cool challenge, we're really glad we made it - with two hours to spare before deadline!


For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet). Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!


Daring Cooks May: Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh.
Good Mexican food is hard to come by in Sweden. Sure, “Tex Mex” is extermely popular and is on the dinner tables of many Swedish families on Friday and Saturday evenings, but it's of course a “Swedified” version and, in my opinion, quite boring. I haven't found any good Mexican restaurants either, but we do have some Taco Bell-copies.

So, the alternative, as always, is to make it yourself. But then you run into problems at the grocery store. Corn tortillas? Yeah, maybe. Anaheim chilies? Errrr, no. Tomatillos? What's that? (Answer here.) As usual, our hosts were aware of the regional limitations of the global Daring Cooks, and provided us with some suggestions for substitutes. Tomatillos are apparently somewhat related to gooseberries. Fresh gooseberries are hard to come by during gooseberry season (unless you have a bush in you garden, or knows someone who does, your only bet is the local farmer's market. I have never seen gooseberries in a grocery store), and in May? Impossible!

So what's two Daring Cooks to do? Well, improvise of course!

We had of course great plans to make our own tortillas and all, but we didn't have time. We did, however, have time for a crazy chicken “grilling” experiment. The recipe says to use a gas grill or medium-hot charcoal, which we didn't have access to. Instead, we brushed the chicken breasts with Liquid Smoke (yay, artificial flavorings!), cooked them in the oven for about 20 minutes, and then Markus went over them with our kitchen torch (the kind you use for brulées). We don't know if the torch thing really did anything to the flavor, but it added some color and was so crazy we just had to do it!

And for the Anaheim peppers? Well, our guess was that they are mainly green and has a bit of a punch in them, so we opted for green bell peppers (for the color), regular red peppers (for the punch), and some jalapeño (for color and punch, turned out to be hard to peel them after roasting, so we ended up not using very much of it, which was probably for the better anyway.)

Oh, and since we were unable to get either tomatillos or gooseberries, we opted for gooseberry jam! Well, what's a daring cook to do?

So, here's the recipe for our gooseberry-pepper salsamathingy

450 g Green bell peppers
40 g Jalapeño
70 g Red chili
1 Onion
2 cloves of Garlic
1 tbsp Chicken stock concentrate
½ dl Water
250 g Gooseberry jam
1 tsp Dried oregano

Grill, peel and remove the seeds from the green bell peppers, the jalapeño and the red chili. Chop the onion and press the garlic. Mix it all up with a mixer, and stir in the chicken stock, water and seasoning. Taste on your own risk. Since we only had 250 g of Gooseberry jam, we halved the recipe at this time, using only half of the pepper mix.

To assemble the enchiladas, we used store brought corn tortillas, a mixture of Porte Salute, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese and the “grilled” chicken. We started with a thin layer of salsa, then added two layers of tortilla, salsa, chicken and cheese, and topped it all with a layer of tortilla, salsa and cheese.

The enchiladas were cooked for 15 minutes at 225°C, and served with guacamole and cold, Mexican beer – as is becoming of this kind of dish. We later found out that tomatillos are available in Sweden, but only as a prefabricated “Tomatillo & Green Chili Sauce”...

Thank you for a fun and tasty challenge! Make sure to visit the Daring Kitchen for the whole recipe and the other Daring Cooks' creations!


(In the spirit of) Daring Bakers April: Pudding

I constantly rave about how being a Daring Kitchen member lets you try out things you would never have done before. Maybe that is especially true for this month's challenge.
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.
Suet, I learned through this challenge, is a hard, but flaky fat found in the area around the kidneys of a cow or sheep. I've never seen it anywhere here in Sweden, or even heard about it, but I'm sure it would be possible to get some, given you had the time to shop around. We didn't. The challenge said it could be substituted with hard, white vegetable fat or shortening. I'm sure we could have found something suitable, given we had the time to do some research. We didn't. Instead, we went outside the box, and inside the bone.

We made marrow pudding!

We figured this would count as being “in the spirit of the challenge” – it is a British pudding, made with a somewhat unusual animal product. The only thing that doesn't meet the requirements is that it's baked, not steamed.

The recipe comes from our dessert guru Jan Hedh. I've looked at the picture of the English marrow pudding in his book Deserter many times and thought that “hey, that looks good, but I'll never make it”. Well thanks to the Daring Bakers, we have! And it tasted lovely!

Esther, sorry for not making your challenge recipe, but thank you for giving us this opportunity to try something completely new!

Jan Hedh's English marrow pudding
from the book Desserter

8-10 portions (we halved the recipe)

200 g ox marrow
1½ dl cream
200 g eggs (about 4)
80 g sugar
10 g vanilla sugar
2 ml salt
200 g white bread, crust removed
200 g corinths
4 tbsp dark rum
Butter and sugar for the pan
4 tbsp dark rum for flambéeing
Caramel sauce for serving (recipe below)

Day 1:
Soak the marrow in cold water overnight. Change the water a few times.
Mix cream, eggs. sugar, vanilla sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread. Let it stand overnight to swell.
Soak the corinths in the rum overnight.

It's hard to believe that this soaking goo can turn out so delicious! Thankfully, Sweden is a BSE-free zone, otherwise we wouldn't dare to eat this stuff cooked or not.

Day 2:
Set the oven to 175°C.
Drain the marrow and chop it finely. Mix with the bread mixture and the rum-soaked corinths. Use your hands to combine everything well.
Coat an ovenproof dish (about 1½ liters), preferably one with a lid, with the butter and sugar. Place the pudding mix in the dish and cover with wax paper, cut out to fit the dish. Cover with a lid or with aluminum foil.
Bake for one hour.
Remove from the oven and let the pudding rest for 30 minutes.
Remove it from the pan and place on a heat proof dish.
Heat the rum carefully and pour it over the pudding. Set on fire (be careful, of course!), and serve the pudding in flames together with a caramel sauce.

Fresh out of the oven

Caramel sauce
120 g sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 dl cream

Boil sugar and lemon juice, stirring constantly until you have a light brown caramel.
Add the cream, a little at the time, and boil until the caramel is dissolved.
The sauce will keep about 5 days in the fridge.

Marrow pudding flaming in the spirit of Captain Morgan ('s dark rum). Flambeing can really bring out a lot of different colors!


Letting him eat cake

People who know me knows that I like crazy projects and out-there ideas. In the kitchen this takes the form of plans for elaborate 12 course tasting menus (not realized yet, but one day. One day with a lot of time and patience), weird flavor-combos, or, as today, complicated birthday cakes.

Markus is turning 30-something today, and as is tradition in our household, that means I'm making him a birthday cake. Last year I made an elaborate Jan Hedh chocolate creation, and I didn't want to make anything less this year. When I came across this post at Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker, I knew I just had to do it. Quoting Gesine:
It’s a lot of work. It takes more time then you really want to invest. It’s messy. But it’s beautiful.
A lot of work, a lot of time, making a mess. Topped with beauty. It's a done deal!

Writing backwards to create decor sides.

I gave the cake an almond bottom, filled it with vanilla-lemon quark mousse and garnished with peaches (canned, cause it's that time of the year), raspberries and passion fruit. For the quark mousse I used a Swedish quark product called Kesella Vanilj, which is flavored with vanilla. You could use regular quark and add vanilla extract or vanilla sugar. I miscalculated the amount of mousse so I didn't get enough to fill up the sides of the cake. You probably want to double the mousse recipe, or else make shorter decor sides.

The decor sides do take time to make, but I didn't find them that difficult. I wrote "GRATTIS MARKUS" (congratulations Markus) in block letters. The Markus part turned out beautiful, but "grattis" had some floating out, I don't know why that was but I guess I wasn't careful enough when spreading the jaconde sponge batter over the frozen tuille.

Good lettering.

Bad lettering. IS is fine, but what happened to the rest?

The cake tasted heavenly, and was easy to cut into clean, nice slices. And Markus was mighty impressed - mission accomplished!

The writing's on the cake

1 batch decor sides, follow the instructions here

For the almond cake bottom:
300 g almond paste
2 eggs

Grate the almond paste. Mix well with the eggs, and spread the batter out into a buttered and breaded springform pan, about 23 cm in diameter. Bake at 175°C for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool before removing the springform pan.

For the vanilla-citrus quark mousse
1 1/4 dl milk
1 dl granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
250 g vanilla-flavoured quark (Kesella Vanilj)
1½ dl cream
4 sheets gelatin

Bring the milk, sugar, salt and lemon zest to a boil in a saucepan.
Place the egg yolks in a bowl and mix them well with some of the warm milk mixture. Add the rest of the milk, stir well, and pour back into the saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens. Pour it into a cold bowl and let it cool completely.
Add the quark.
Soak the gelatin sheets for five minutes in cold water. Squeeze out excess water and melt them over low heat in a small saucepan. Mix with a little of the egg-milk mixture, and stir the gelatin into the rest of the mixture.
Whip the cream into stiff peaks and fold it in.

Assembling the cake:
Get the almond bottom and attach the springform ring around it again. Get your decor sides and trim them to the correct height and length. Place them around the cake ring, writing side out of course. Pour the mousse onto (into?) the cake. Let it set in the fridge for at least two hours before decorating the cake with the fruits and berries of your choice.