Archive for February, 2010

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

“Tiramisu” means “pick me up” in Italian (although according to Babel Fish it means “I pulls on”, which doesn’t really have the same ring to it). My mother-in-law told me that little children in Italy are often heard to call out “tiramisu” to their parents, which amused me. I can see my own Miss B, who is almost 2, saying “need tiramisu Mummy”, but in her case she would definitely be demanding cake! In any event, a pick me up was timely this week, in which both Miss B and her 4 week old brother (who shall be known here as Squirt) had been sick. We spent Tuesday night and all of Wednesday in hospital with Miss B (who is now fine and back to demanding cake), so that the ladyfingers were baked on Wednesday night as light relief. At the time of baking I had been awake for about 40 hours, minus a few of those ‘falling asleep sideways on a chair’ moments while in hospital, so I figured I had an excuse if they were a bit crap. They actually turned out relatively well but, as you will note from the picture below, I did not bother to sift the lumps from the icing sugar before sprinkling the biscuits, so that the biscuits are decorated with attractive icing sugar lumps. It’s a look that I’m sure will take off. I also lost motivation towards the end of the piping process, so that I only piped 24 biscuits rather than the 36 required. And those that I did pipe were, um, uniquely shaped. OK, they were crooked.

The special nobbly savoiardi biscuits

The rest of the components were made the next day, without any particular drama. I used sherry in place of marsala for the zabaglione as I had no marsala or port and was too lazy to go to the bottleshop to buy some. I also used lime zest in place of lemon. And, as I had fewer biscuits  than required, I ended up with fewer layers in the finished tiramisu. Also, I think the biscuits should have been soaked for longer in the coffee, as the strongest flavour is citrus rather than coffee. Other than that, making the tiramisu allowed me a chance to spend some quality time with my friend the shiny red KitchenAid, which is a very good thing!

the finished item – plain
cocoa dusted finished item and hole in cake
mmm…breakfast tiramisu – biscuits definitely needed more coffee. As do I.


(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings. I have recorded the recipe using the measurements that I used, which were generally by weight.

The recipe required making both the ladyfingers and marscapone from scratch. No cheating options allowed. I must admit that I wasn’t entirely sure what marscapone contained, so I was pleasantly surprised by how simple it was. And just surprised that it was essentially curdled cream. Oh my thighs.

Marscapone cheese

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Ladyfingers/Savoiardi biscuits
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar,


Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
50gms sugar
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee) – I used sherry as I had no port or marsala and was too lazy to go the bottle shop.
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used lime zest)

For the vanilla pastry cream:
55gms sugar
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used lime zest for this too)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup pure cream (35% fat)
55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional) (I was too lazy to use this too)
110gms sugar
75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less) (or in my case, you regret throwing the last 1/3 of the mixture out and only have 24 biscuits to play with)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


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This was to be my first Daring Bakers Challenge and the first post in my first food blog. I had some ambitious goals – to bake regularly, to record it, and to try and emulate the thoughtful, inspiring and beautiful work of the many foodbloggers I admire, like Y from Lemonpi and Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella. Realistically, given that I can’t even work out how to insert the link to their blogs in this post, aiming to bake regularly is ambitious enough.

Completing the Nanaimo bars was not in itself challenging, although I chose the gluten option, without peanuts, as the husband (who would be consuming the bars) has a nut allergy but no problem with wheat. I enjoyed making the biscuits, which made the kitchen smell delicious, and was only briefly staggered by the sheer volume of butter in the recipe. Otherwise, all went smoothly. But then I went and had a baby the day the assignment was due!

Given that I have missed the deadline and forgotten all the posting rules anyway, I am going to just post some pictures of my creation. OK, so it looks a bit ordinary but I was pretty proud I managed to bake anything, given that I had an enormous belly between my arms and the bench!

The Graham crackers

The finished bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and http://www.nanaimo.ca.

My excuse for late posting

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