Posts Tagged ‘Daring Baker’

March Daring Bakers Challenge

I am so glad I joined the Daring Bakers. Each month I learn something new and exciting. 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.

Life has been really busy off late. We are moving to a new place in a couple of days so the packing has started. Amit and I are both giving our next exams in the PhD journey in April so we are both busy typing out our proposals for the exam. And to top it I have my part-time internship! So busy busy month. Have been a little slow on updating my blog due to all these events which tend to take a precedence over everything else. But the daring bakers and daring cooks challenge is something I promised myself, I won’t miss for anything so here I am typing away to complete the blog on time!

I loved this month’s challenge. It’s a very easy to make recipe and the only tricky part for me as usual was the yeast! My love hate relationship with yeast is slowly turning into a love love relationship! I like that because that means more home-baked breads… While I was thinking about what kind of filling to make, Amit suddenly expressed his desire to have some apple crumble. So I decided that I would make an Apple Walnut filling for the Coffee Cake. So here is the recipe for the Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake with Apple Walnut filling.  You can also make a savory version of this, which I will very soon. Maybe as my first bake at the new place!

I made one loaf of the coffee cake with half the measurements from the recipe given below and it serves 4-5 persons with a few second helpings.

Preparation time:

For the dough:

  • 10 – 15 minutes preparation of the dough
  • 8 – 10 minutes kneading
  • 45 – 60 minutes first rise
  • 10 – 15 minutes to prepare meringue, roll out, fill and shape dough
  • 45 – 60 minutes for second rising.

Baking time: approximately 30 minutes


For the yeast coffee cake dough:

  1. 4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
  2. ¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
  3. ¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼  oz.) salt
  4. 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons /  7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
  5. ¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
  6. ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
  7. ½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
  8. 2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:

  1. 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  2. ¼ teaspoon salt
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  4. ½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the Filling:

  1. 4 apples chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  2. 2/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1/2 cup chopped walnut

Egg wash:

  1. 1 beaten egg
  2. Cocoa powder (optional)
  3. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes



Prepare the dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, 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.
  • 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 1 cup (150 g) 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  1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
  • Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:

  • Add the chopped apples to a saucepan and add the cinnamon and sugar to it and let it cook. This takes about 15-20 minutes depending on what kind of apples you use. Make sure that the apples are soft and mushy but is still in chunks. You do not want it to get too mushy.
  • Cool this to room temperature before using to fill the dough.
  • Chop the walnuts and set it aside.

Prepare the Meringue:

  • Once the dough has doubled, in a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – 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 ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cake:

  • Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Punch down the dough and divide in half.
  • On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.
  • Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
  • Spread half the apple over the meringue and then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the apple.
  • 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.
  • If you would like to make a round coffee cake 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. I made a log shaped coffee cake this time.
  • Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the log or the outside edge of the round coffee cake at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
  • Cover the 2 coffee 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 tops of the coffee cakes 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 cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
  • Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling.
  • These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

This weekend coffee cake is what we had for breakfast and I must say I am loving it. It all gooey inside and the dough is both fluffy and crunchy. I loved this and am so ready to make a savory version of this very soon. I loved this recipe specially since it’s so versatile – just change the filling and you have a different version of the coffee cake! And once again cheers to all the daring bakers for all the awesome versions of the coffee cakes tried and tested over the month of March. I am sure there are many happy tummies out there, having enjoyed the yummy coffee cakes. And a special thanks to Jamie and Ria for the wonderful challenge this month.

February Daring Bakers Challenge

I have blogged about panna cotta in the past. In fact I have two panna cotta posts, the strawberry panna cotta and a milk chocolate panna cotta. But they have been healthier versions of the panna cotta but this blog is about the original panna cotta, the melt in your mouth kind, the kind you shut out all other senses for…

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.

Both the recipes are absolutely easy to make even in large quantities and so delicious. I actually rate my recipes by the rate at which Amit finishes the dish. And this one actually was cleaned out in about 3-4 minutes. So now you can rate the dish yourself. Hope you enjoy the recipe and love it as much as I loved it.

I was supposed to post this recipe last weekend but due to my very hectic schedule now, I was able to make the cookies but not the panna cotta last weekend.

Giada’s Vanilla Panna Cotta


  1. 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  2. 1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
  3. 3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
  4. 1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
  5. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
  6. pinch of salt


  • Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  • Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
  • Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  • Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

I added a layer of strawberry gelee over my vanilla panna cotta. The recipe for that follows.

Strawberry Gelee


  1. 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)*Note:  Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
  2. 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  3. 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  4. 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
  5. 1/4 cup triple sec


  • Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  • Place the fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved.
  • Next add the triple sec and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
  • Let the gelee mixture simmer till the fruit has completely disintegrated.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you’re planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

I added a few slices of strawberry over the chilled panna cotta before adding the gelee over it.

Nestle Florentine Cookies


This recipe is from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”.

  1. 2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
  2. 2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
  3. 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
  4. 2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
  5. 1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
  6. 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
  7. 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  8. pinch of salt
  9. 1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk 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).

  • Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5).  Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
  • To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. 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.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate. I did not sandwich the cookies, I just added the chocolate over the cookie to form a hash pattern.

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I enjoyed making and eating them.

Overcoming the Fear of Baking Bread

I have tried a lot of different varieties of dishes including baked and cooked dishes, but one thing that has eluded me is bread. I have tried making it twice before and both times I was rather disappointed with the end result. I had almost given up on making bread at home and decided that I will just have to settle with store bought bread for the rest of my life. So when the daring bakers challenge for December was announced, I had mixed feelings. I was worried that my first Daring Bakers challenge was going to end up in another disastrous effort at making bread. So I procrastinated for a month and then I guess it was a Christmas miracle or something, I decided that I was going to give it a shot after all. Atleast I could rely on the recipe here and I think I do believe in Christmas miracles. So I decided to bake it in the midst of preparing a side dish and dessert to take to a friend’s place for dinner. And yes miracles do happen and I do believe in them now.

The Stollen turned out to be awesome. And my fear of baking bread at home has been completely eliminated. Thank you Penny from Sweet Sadie’s Baking, you hosted the perfect challenge for me to get over my fear of baking bread. The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I wanted to take pictures of the wreath shaped stollen before I cut it. But it looked too tempting and I actually cut it before I clicked pictures. This bread makes the whole house smell so good and it tastes awesome. I am waiting to toast it and eat it with some coffee tomorrow morning. This recipe serves 10-12 persons and make one stollen wreath or two traditional shaped stollen loaves. I made my stollen wreath using half the quantities mentioned in the recipe and it is still quite a big wreath.

Preparation time:

The following times are approximate.  I suggest you gather and scale/weigh/measure all your ingredients before you begin mixing.

  • Approximately 1 hour first stage – then rest overnight or up to 3 days
  • 2 hours to warm up after refrigeration
  • 15 minutes shaping
  • 2 hours proofing
  • 30-45 minutes baking

Equipment required:

  • Mixer with dough hook or strong arms and hands
  • Mixing bowl
  • Bowl to soak raisins
  • Small saucepan
  • Sheet of plastic or plastic wrap to cover when proofing
  • Bench or pastry scraper (very handy for cutting dough and also cleaning work surface)
  • Rolling pin
  • Dough whisk can be handy but not necessary
  • Pastry Brush
  • A scale is really important to have when making bread so I strongly advise you to get one.  You do not have to have one though.  (would make a good Christmas gift!)
  • Sheet Pan or round Pizza pan
  • Parchment Paper


  1. ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  2. 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  3. 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  4. 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  5. 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  6. ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  7. ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  8. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
  9. 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  10. Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  11. 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  12. 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
  13. ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
  14. 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
  15. 3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
  16. 12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
  17. 1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
  18. Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
  19. Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or  you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Soak the raisins:

  • In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough:

  • Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes.  Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
  • In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted.  Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
  • Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
  • In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
  • Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture.  This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate.  Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
  • Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed.  The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky.  Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Put it in the fridge overnight.  The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm)  but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath:

  • Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
  • Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

  • Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

  • Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan.  Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle.  You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

  • Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

  • Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.  Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

  • Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
  • Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
  • Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
  • Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
  • The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
  • Let cool at least an hour before serving.  Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh.
  • When completely cool, store in a plastic bag.  Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
  • The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly…. so delicious with butter and a cup of tea….mmmmm


The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar.

  • Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
  • The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
  • One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Additional Information

Here is a link to recipes to make your own candied citrus peel

Kneading Bread

Martha Stewart’s wreath