French Yule Log

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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.

The French Yule Log was truly challenging for me because it was my first try. But the challenge was worth-while, I must say.  My family and I loved it so much,we have become true French dessert fans : ).On any given day, I would never even contemplate making such a dessert,but because I am a daring baker :), I MUST live up to my title.

I have to admit that I was a little  intimidated  by this recipe,  I must have read the recipe close to,  well, close to 500 times 🙂

Day 1 – I prepared the almond dacquoise, crisp insert and the creme brulee.

Day 2 – I continued the process. I prepare the mousse, ganache insert.

Day 3-  I prepared the icing.

French Yule log Recipe:

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1.    Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner’s 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 almond 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.

Vanilla Mousse
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
2/3 cup (160g) whole milk
1 vanilla bean
4 medium-sized egg yolks
3 oz (6 Tbsp / 80g) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp (25g) cornstarch, sifted
4g / 2 tsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
1 cup (240g) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Make a pastry cream:
1.    Pour the milk and 2/3 cup cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into milk and put the vanilla bean in as well.
2.    Heat to boiling, then turn the heat off, cover and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the vanilla bean.
3.    Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white, thick and fluffy.
4.    Add the cornstarch, beating carefully to ensure that there are no lumps. While whisking vigorously, pour some of the milk into the yolk mixture to temper it.
5.    Put infused milk back on the stove on medium heat. Pour yolk mixture back into the milk while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking vigorously until mixture thickens considerably.
6.    As soon as the mixture starts to boil, leave on for only 2 more minutes. (The recipe says you should remove the vanilla bean at this time but in the interest of no one getting burned, that can be done after you take the pastry cream off the stove.)
7.    Once removed from the heat, cover the pastry cream by putting plastic film directly on the surface of the cream (this prevents it from forming a thick and unappetizing skin as it cools). Let cool at room temperature.
8.    Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil). Whisking vigorously, pour the cooled pastry cream over it.
9.    Whip the 1 cup whipping cream until stiff and add gradually to the pastry cream (DO NOT WHISK). Blend delicately with a spatula (DO NOT WHISK).

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

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.

Ingredients:
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream    (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1.    Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan 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.
4.    Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes – recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1.    Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2.    Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3.    Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4.    Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Coconut Crisp Insert

3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate
1 oz (1/3 cup/25g) shredded coconut
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
2.1 oz (60g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1.  Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) to toast (a different temperature might work better for you with your own oven).
2.  Melt the white chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and add the toasted coconut.
3.  Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Ingredients:
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.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

Ingredients:
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.

(Decorate the cake as you wish)

Thank you, Hilda and Marion and Happy New Year to everyone!

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Carrot Cake

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This delicious carrot recipe is from The Good Housekeeping Baking Book. I rely on this book so much, sometimes I just ignore the fact that I have other cookbooks waiting to be used… My decoration on the other hand, is coming from another source. I was watching Martha Stewart’s show, and one of her guests baked a carrot cake and decorated it the same way I did. I thought it was an interesting way of completing the cake, and it looked so picture perfect. I’m not so sure about my pictures, but I’ll get there soon enough: )

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Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

3 cups lightly packed shredded carrots (about 6 medium carrots)

1 cup walnuts, chopped

3/4 dark seedless raisins

Cream cheese frosting

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease metal pan.Line bottom with waxed paper; grease paper. Dust with flour.
  • In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
  • In a large bowl, with mixer at medium -high speed, beat eggs and granulated and brown  sugars 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently with rubber spatula.Beat in oil, milk, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and beat until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Fold in carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 55 to 60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out almost clean, with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. With small knife, loosen cake from sides of pan; invert onto rack. remove waxed paper, cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, prepare cream cheese Frosting. Place cake on large platter; spread frosting over top and sides of cake and decorate with candied carrot peels as seen as above.

Cream Cheese frosting:3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 packages cream cheese(3 ounces each), slightly softened

6 tbsp butter or margarine, softened

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat confectioners  sugar, cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla just blended. Increase speed to medium; beat 1 minute or until smooth and fluffy, scraping bowl often with rubber spatula. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Note: I’m very fond of  cakes with fillings, that’s why I baked my cake with 2 layers.

Turkish Spinach Borek (Spinach Pie)

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In Turkish, börek is the name used for pastries made with phyllo dough.    A variety of vegetables, herbs and spices are used in böreks such as spinach, nettle, leek, potato, eggplant, courgette, ground black pepper.

Kol böreği (“arm burek”) is a type of burek prepared in long rolls, either rounded (also named Gül (rose)böreği) or lined and filled with either mincemeat, feta cheese, spinach or potato and baked under low heat.

Source: wikipedia.org

Gul boregi is one of my favorite.  I prefer to prepare  phyllo by myself. Preparing your own yufka might not be easy for you but the result is worth for it and you can taste the difference between storebought yufka and homemade yufka. But if you can’t prepare the dough by yourself go for the storebought yufka. You still get very tasty borek. Most of the Middle Eastern Stores carries this product and you also can get it through Amazon.com.

Never  substitute it for thin phyllo. It will not be the same. The thin phyllo gives you Greek version of Spanakopita ( Greek spinach pie). Spanakopita is also delicious pie but does not have the texture of Turkish borek.

Below phyllo recipe belongs to Culinaryart.wordpress.com

Phyllo Recipe

INGREDIENTS
2 glasses flour
6 and 1/2 soupspoons butter or margarine
1/2 glass water
2 eggs
A few salt

PROCESSING METHOD
– Sift the flour, keeping back 2 tablespoons. Pour the flour into a large salad bowl and make a hollow place in the center. Put an egg, 1/2 glass water, 1  tablespoon of melted butter and salt into the hollow.
– Make the dough by mixing and kneading these ingredients.
– Sprinkle the dough with flour and let stand 15 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
– With a rolling pin roll the dough to a thickness of 2 cm.
– Spread on 3 tablespoons of softened butter. Cut the dough into 3 pieces, placing one on top of the other.
– Roll the 3 pieces.
– Spread on the remaining butter. Cut again into 3 pieces and place one on the other. Knead a few minutes and shape into a ball.
– Divide the dough into a little bigger than the size of a tennis ball and roll out each of these balls to obtain the yufka thin discs of dough approximately 55-60 cm in diameter.
– Let dry a little before using.

Spinach Filling:

1 lb  chopped fresh spinach

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and black pepper

2 eggs

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup of olive oil

Put oil in a pan when it is hot add chopped onions, saute it for 3 minutes and add spinach  and  saute it for another 5  minutes. Cool it, add feta cheese, salt and black pepper.

-In another bowl beat the eggs and add milk and olive oil. Mix well.
-Grease a round tray.
-Lay  one phyllo dough on the flat surface and brush phyllo generously with the egg+milk+oil mixture and sprinkle spinach mixture.
-Roll the phyllo tight and swirl.Repeat this process on each yufka.
Place them in the tray. Egg wash them and sprinkle some nigella seeds and sesame seeds on to gul boreks.

Bake at 375F for 35 minutes. When its golden brown take it out of the oven and cover with damp kitchen towel for 15 minutes and serve it hot, warm or cold.

Enjoy!

Tarte Tatin

I was watching a cooking show on TV a couple of  months ago, and the chef was baking Tarte Tatin. It looked delicious and easy…(Well I guess everything looks easy when you watch it on TV.)  I found this recipe in one of my baking books called 500 Fabulous Cakes And More and  wanted to give it a try and I baked my first Tarte Tatin. It wasn’t bad at all.

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Ingredients

1/2 pound puff or pie crust pastry

10-12 large Golden Delicious apples

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup superfine sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Creme fraiche or whipped cream, to serve

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a an 11 inch round less than 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet and chill.
  • Peel, halve and core the apples, sprinkle with lemon juice.
  • In a 10 inch tarte tatin pan or ovenproof frying pan, cook the butter, sugar and cinnamon until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the mixture is a medium caramel color. Remove from the heat and arrange the apple halves, standing on edge, in pan.
  • Return the pan to the heat and simmer for 20 min until the apples are tender and colored. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  • Preheat the oven 450F. Place the pastry over the apples and tuck the edges inside the pan around the apples. Pierce the pastry in two or three places, then bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.
  • To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the pastry. Cover with a serving plate and carefully invert the pan and plate together. It is best to do this over a sink in case any caramel drips. Lift off the pan and loosen any apples that stick with spatula. Serve the tart warm with creme fraiche or whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Tomato Rice

Tomato rice is a very delicious and simple  recipe. Crushed tomatoes and shredded carrots are sauted with spices and then added to rice. At the end of it you get tangy flavor of tomato blends and gives rice wonderful taste.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Rice
  • 4 Tomatoes (cut into pieces)
  • 2 medium Onion (cut into pieces)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpea
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon butter
How to make Tomato Rice:
Wash and soak rice for 15 minutes in water. Drain water and keep it aside.
In a frying pan melt butter, add onions, carrots and fry for 5 minutes.
Fry until onion turns light brown. Add tomato pieces to it.
Add salt and black pepper.
After tomatoes are cooked for 3 to 4 minutes, add rice and cheackpeas to it and stir.
Now pour down 2 cups of chicken stock and cook properly.