Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fraisier on the Ninth of July

Over Fourth of July weekend, Sara and I were camping in Castle Crags State Park with a group of friends, enjoying some delicious campfire cuisine instead of the traditional barbeque. However, we were lucky to enjoy some great barbeque the following weekend courtesy of Genevieve, who once again let us share our Daring Bakers challenge with a hungry group of 20 or so friends at her house. 

For a recap of Genevieve's amazing barbeque, visit her blog

To make the fraisier and leave time for it to set, we started quite early that Saturday morning. While the recipe wasn't overly complicated, it did involve several parts and steps prior to assembly. Like zesting lemons for the chiffon cake batter.

And making pastry cream.

We folded egg whites into the chiffon cake batter, which resulted in an airy texture.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves with a missing bottom to Sara's spring-form cake pan. So we improvised by placing it on a baking tray and lining it with parchment.

Pouring in the batter... so far so good.

And the result. Despite some lumpy sides due to the parchment, it actually turned out fine. Although it was somewhat disappointing for us to watch the beautifully fluffy cake shrink a bit after it came out of the oven.

In the end the cake had the perfect light consistency we were hoping for.

It was hard to resist eating the strawberries as we hulled and sliced them.

Really very difficult.

But we resisted. For the most part.

Sara and I were very skeptical of the almond paste. And quite a bit amused by its shape and appearance after removing it from its packaging.... But we were actually pleased with the end product when we rolled it out and included it in the cake. The layer of almond flavor nicely complemented the sweet strawberries and cream

We successfully, albeit nervously, sliced the cake in half to begin assembly. Phew!

Carefully arranged the strawberries.

And, after adding the cream and topping it off, we wrapped it up and stuck it in the fridge.

After devouring Genevieve's delicious barbeque, we unwrapped the cake and spread fresh whipped cream on top.

Then we decorated the top with some blueberries and more strawberries, as well as some powdered sugar.

We were very pleased with the result. Beautiful!

Mmm... and delicious.

Not the best picture, but a glimpse of the interior. Another successful challenge!

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

East meets West (Side Story)

Between the many weddings, graduations, and outdoor adventures of summer, Erica and I find it a bit difficult to schedule time for baking. Thankfully, San Francisco weather took a turn for the bizarre, and instead of attending a blue grass festival, rain forced us indoors to roll out sheets and sheets of phyllo dough. (Fun(?) fact? This was the first time on record that it rained in SF on June 4th).

The prospect of phyllo dough made us nervous. So many sheets to make! Typically, so very bad at making things as thin as they need to be! So we read through the comments, and came across the best advice of all - buy 00 flour. 00 flour is the finest ground flour in Italy (and also provides the name for one of my favorite SF restaurants - Zero Zero). We picked up a small bag at Whole Foods, and proceeded to make some of the thinnest, most pliable doughs I have ever worked with. Miracle of miracles!

We rolled and rolled and rolled, and stacked and stacked and stacked. We decided to make spanakopita as well, so we rolled and rolled and rolled some more. Cat helped us out with the nut mixture - a divine combination of flavors. I sauteed up some spinach and feta as well. We used an ungodly amount of butter.

The worse part about baklava? Having to wait an ENTIRE DAY to eat it. We baked it and watched as our piles of dough transformed into flaky goodness.

Instead of devouring it though, we poured on the honey mixture, and satiated ourselves with spanikopita (as well as both Wet Hot American Summer and Bridget Jones' Diary).

The next day, we agreed to meet at the old Castro theater for a showing of West Side Story. I dutifully wrapped up the baklava and packed it into tupperware containers. And in the middle of one of the saddest stories of all time, we happily munched on some of the best baklava I have ever tasted. Dare I say we're on a roll?