The Daring Bakers

Mandarin Orange and Lemon Tian

    The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I fully intended to post this on the day it was due, but just as I was putting it all together my daughter called. She and hubs were sick and could I come take care of the Baby. Let’s see – post DB or take care of baby – not a hard choice!! Sorry, DB, but you lost the coin toss. And then I got sick, so here it is Wednesday and I am finally finding time to put it all together.

...with a lemon curd drizzle....

There were several componants to this dessert which had to be made by the baker:

    The Tart Dough – “Pate Sablee”I used the recipe given,
    The Whipped Cream ditto and mixed in some lemon curd because my marmalade was way too chunky,
    The Caramel Sauce this I did not make. Just ran out of time. Plus not a big fan of caramel and citrus.
    Citrus SegmentsI used mandarin oranges which was basically cheating tweaking the recipe. .
    The Marmalade I used lemon marmalade from my go to recipe .

I liked the mix of lemons and oranges.

The Tian consists of a pate sableecrust with a thin layer of marmalade covered with a layer of citrus flavored whipped cream and topped with an arrangement of oranges. (This done from the bottom up and flipped – so to speak)

Layers of deliciousness!!

I liked the mix of citrus flavors. The tartness of the lemon marmalade offset the sweetness of the mandarin oranges just right. I am sorry now that I only made 3 4″ minis (1/2 of the pate sablee recipe gave me 5 crust bases). Guess I will just have to make this one again – often.

    The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I love being a member of the Daring Kitchen!! I either do the Baker’s challenge or the Cooks’s Challenge each month, but rarely have time to do both. This month, I chose to do the Baker’s Challenge, even though we were told we weren’t baking this month – well, technically. We doughed. We rolled. We cut. We FRIED!!! Holy Moley!! We made


I have a couple of confessions to make:

    1. I don’t like the taste of Red Wine. I like to cook with it but don’t like it alone. When I saw the addition of red wine to the dough I was a little skeptical. Wouldn’t the dough taste like wine? I checked several other recipes and they ALL called for red wine. Well, FINE!!!

    2. I don’t have cannoli tubes. Could I use dowl rods to shape the cannoli? How about PVC pipe? Then I realized you have to fry the tubes IN the cannoli!! DUH!! There is NO WAY I would find cannoli tubes in Podunk, USA!!. But TH came to the rescue. He made me one tube out of brushed aluminum. PERFECT!!!

It was big, but it worked great.

One of the fillings suggested was pumpkin/ricotta. I followed that but used Sweet Potato instead. And dipped the ends in candied pecans (left over from MSC’s Candied Sweet Potato Cup Cakes.

I didn’t have marscapone cheese so I used this substitute from My Recipe Collection. Using that recipe I will fill the two empty tubes I have with the regular cannoli filling – eventually.

This was a fun challenge. The Daring Kitchen has opened up a lot of baking/cooking avenues for me – soups, desserts, sides. Some of the challenges I won’t repeat, but this isn’t one of them. But I think I will find some ‘real’ cannoli tubes first.

    The September 2009 Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

I found out this past week that I enjoy making Puff Pastry. Rolling. Folding. Butter. Folding. Butter. What’s not to love? It is time intensive – prepare to spend an afternoon getting the pastry ready to bake – but it is so worth it. What you end up with is a delicate, flaky, buttery treat. Another fun challenge from the The Daring Kitchen. And fairly easy.

What is a vol-au-vent (French for ‘windblown’) you ask?

DSC04229It is a small hollow case of puff pastry. DSC04230

The hollow can be filled with a sweet or a savory filling. I chose a sweet milk chocolate mousse. DSC04246

Topped with a drizzle of chocolate ganache and bits of caramel. Clean. Simple. Elegant.

Please visit other members of the Daring Bakers and see their creative takes on this lovely challenge.(Just click on The blogroll.)


You won’t find many cookies coming from this kitchen. If I rank desserts in our house cake would be first, pie second, ice cream with everything and cookies on the bottom. That is just the way it is. So, when I read the challenge for July from the The Daring Kitchen was cookies, I knew they would last forever in my house. I saw 1/2 a recipe in my future. And it wasn’t a cookie that really interested the MEN in the family. Here is the story.

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Then I popped them in the oven and they came out looking like — ATTACK OF THE AMOEBAS!!!
And I was supposed to make SANDWICH cookies from these??? **SIGH**
(Fill in rest of story here…..) but in the end they actually turned out alright.

I made 1/2 of the cookies with coco with chocolate filling and those were pretty good. But, overall, I don’t think I will make these again. I made them over a week ago and there are still some left, even tho’ I made only 1/2 of the recipe.
Interesting to make, but not a keeper. The cookies seemed a little heavy. Maybe if I left out the lemon they would be more popular in this house.

But go visit the other Daring Bakers and see how there Milan Cookies came out

In the past, British cooking was considered rather bland. But in the last 40 years or so, that has changed. There has been a tremendous influx of other cultures into the British Isles so that bland is no longer a useful word. Indian. Jamaican. French. Asian. They have all become part of basic British cuisine. But, there are still traditional foods that are way beyond enjoyable. Bangers and Mash. Treacle Tart. Toad in a Hole. Rhubarb Pie. And the Daring Bakers this month chose a traditional dessert that goes back quite a ways in British History – Bakewell Tart!

    The term “Bakewell pudding” was first penned in 1826 by Meg Dods; 20 years later Eliza Acton published a recipe that featured a baked rich egg custard overtop 2cm of jam and noted,

      “This pudding is famous not only in Derbyshire, but in several of our northern counties where it is usually served on all holiday occasions.”

I would say more, but there is a great history on Jasmine’s page – so go there. Recipe, too!

I made only 1/2 a recipe and came up with two 6 inch tarts. I already had two shortbread crusts in the freezer – one plain and one chocolate – so I used them. A layer of strawberry preserves with the almond custard on top and voila – Bakewell Tart/Pudding.

It’s good. It’s easy. It’s great with ice cream.

Only two things – I didn’t put a thick enough layer of jam so I couldn’t really taste it. And my mistake to use the chocolate crust. Too overpowering for the almonds. Didn’t care for that one so muchDSC03802

I will make this again. Cherrio until then, Ducks!

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

It seems that every culture of the world has a Meat Pie. The English call them Hand Pies and they were common fare for the working man. The Spanish have Empanadas which ‘require meat’. In India, Pakistan, and other countries of that area one will find Samosas. Kreatopitas in Greece, Pierogies in Poland, and Biff paj in Sweden. Here in the south the Fried Meat Pie is a Louisiana specialty and can be found in just about any filling station between Shreveport and New Orleans. (But that is another post for another day). Today we are looking at another country’s answer to meat pie (or dumpling) – Chinese Pot Stickers/Dumplings (aka Gyoza in Japan).DSC03733

The second Daring Cooks’ challenge is hosted by Jen of use real butter and it is Chinese dumplings which can be steamed, boiled or fried (called pot stickers).

This challenge allowed me to do two things I have not done before – make a non-southern meat pie aka pot sticker, and use my steamer which I have had for years still in the box. Oh, and have fun – again. These dumplings have a pork filling, but if you go HERE – you can see the wonderful variety the Daring Cooks used in this challenge. The only change I made was in the Cabbage – Napa is hard to find here and when I did it was pricey. And since I had just spent extra on the Sesame Seed Oil, just plain green cabbage would have to do. And it did fine.

Before they get steamed...

Before they get steamed...

There are about 10 Chinese Restaurants in and around Podunk, Louisiana, and they all serve Pot Stickers. And none of them have ever been my favorites. The Hunk enjoys them, but I wasn’t sure how much I would like them. Needless to say, home made is sooooooo much better.
After steaming...

After steaming...

They were hard, at first, to form, but after about 50 of them you finally get the hang of it. (Well, maybe!!) They are little purses ready to be dipped in a tasty ‘sauce’. I will make them again and try different fillings. DSC03739

Especially since I know The Hunk enjoyed them.

This was fun. Cannot wait to see what July Brings. Thanks, Jen!!!

Okay, so here I am again, a day two days late and a dollar 5 dollars (it is a recession you know) short. I just completely, totally forgot about Daring Bakers for this month – until I started reviewing for TWD and found all the beautiful apfelstrudels from my fellow bakers. So here I am with the strudel in the oven. But while we are waiting – here is the required:

    The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

This challenge, as Linda and Courtney mentioned, is all about technique. Now I have never made strudel (thus the membership in this great group) and I was somewhat intimidated when I read (finally) about the challenge. But the more I read of others who had made the strudel the less leary I was of trying it. In the end, i found it is really quite simple.

    Step One: Make the dough.
    Step Two: Spread the dough.DSC03700This was the part I was a little ‘scared’ of, but it really went rather well.
    Step Three: Sprinkle bread crumbs. I did make one error here. I used the whole stick of butter because evidently – I CANNOT READ!!!! Also, I only used about 1/2 of the toasted bread crumbs and that almost seemed like too much.
    Step Four: Add filling. I went basic and used the given recipe – well, sorta. I don’t like raisins, didn’t have any rum, added blueberries to 1/2 and sprinkled a little cardamom on 1/2.
    Step Five: Roll up. This was easy, just roll up the table cloth and the strudel just goes along for the ride.
    Step Six: Bake. I think next time I will use an egg wash instead of butter on the top. Prettier sheen.DSC03705
    Step Seven: Devour.DSC03708

    I only have one thing to say. Diese Strudel ist so sehr gut!!! Danke schoen DB for this challenge.

Yes, those are the words no computer owner wants to see/hear/read. But they were the words that were blaring in my brain last week. When my COMPUTER DIED!!!!! Yes, Bloggers, the computer decided it did not want to live anymore. It tried. It would start to boot up, and then change it’s mind. And try again, and change it’s mind. Then it decided it just wasn’t worth the trouble and even gave up trying. Now my hard drive has gone to Computer Heaven computer_clouds(back seat of the car) and my local ‘Puter VooDoo Shaman is trying to raise it from the dead just long enough to retrieve my stuff (and my sanity!!!)

But some sanity has returned – along with the New (refurbished/recertified) cpu which arrived this morning. Partial YAY!!!

So, let me do a little catch up.

First: Daring Cooks. This was supposed to be posted last Thursday, but…. The challenge this month was to make Ricotta Gnocchi. Contrary to popular belief, it is not pronounced g-nochi, but rather noki. According to Wikipedia,”The word gnocchi means “lump”, and comes from nocchio, a knot in the wood.” Remember the Fairy Tale of Pinnochio. Now you know…..!! The recipe came from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

GNOCCHI is an Italian noodle or dumpling. It can be made from flour, semolina, potato, bread crumbs, or other ingredients. The challenge was to make gnocchi using Ricotta cheese. Now, I have some Italian ancestry – Gradenigo – but it evidently it isn’t enough, ’cause my gnocchi just did not want to turn out. I tested the ricotta – not wet – mixed everything up and popped the first test guinnea pig blob into the boiling water – not holding together just doesn’t describe what that little blob did. Okay, added some egg white – same story, added more egg white – same story added ALL the egg white – almost same story. Frustration!! Added a little flour – ehhhhh!!!. Add more flour – finally. DSC03632The next blob was a little better. DSC03633Not pretty, but at least they were holding together. So I made some more…. And then I made a few more…..DSC03636and put them in the butter sauce. Not bad, but not great. I tried some with some Sun Dried Tomato Pesto a friend had made.DSC03635 Better, but still not something I would make again. I didn’t have any zest available, but I did add some Italian seasoning, otherwise I followed the recipe as listed. But it was a challenge.

Second: Tuesday with Dorie!!At least I can get this post up on time. This weeks delight was chosen by Kelly of Baking with the Boys. Great Choice, Kelly!! Easy!! Tasty!! Pretty!!

DSC03638 big pieces of mango – YUMMEEE !! The only changes: I left out the (eewwww) raisins and added about a teaspoon of diced fresh ginger. Liked Loved it!! Nice and spicy and moist.

I made the whole recipe and ended up with 3 little loaves and 1 mini bundt cake.DSC03642 This is definitely added to my Bake it Again list. Thanks, Kelly!

Catch up later with the Lemon Tart. Next week – Chipster Topped Brownies.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge

      Aruba, Jamaica,
      Ooo I wanna take you
      Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
      KeyLargo, Montego baby why dont we go
      Off the Florida Keys

And tropical is what I was thinking about when I read about the cheese cake challenge. The end of the Winter, Summer is on the horizon, and Beaches are calling. We were given a basic cheese cake recipe and free reign to do whatever we wanted with it. Our only instructions were to “Make it unique. Make a showstopper of a dessert. Add flavor, sauces, decorations – dress it up and show it off!” EXCITEMENT in the KITCHEN!!!!

Several Years ago I was at a Tropical Party and tasted a great tropical cheese cake. It actually took first prize for desserts that evening. I had the recipe, but have since lost it. Now I am going to try and replicate it.

    And I am going to call it:

      **Pina Colada Cheese Cake** (more…)

logo1I have to admit – I have never made home made pasta before. I also have to admit – it was a lot easier, and I do mean a lot easier, than I expected. And it was FUN!!! And I will do it again. And did I say it was easy??? I was excited that I actually could do this. I was nervous that it wouldn’t turn out, but it did. YAY!!!! dsc03366The first step was to mix the wet ingredients into the dry including the chopped spinach. After the mix was complete the next step was to combine the mix into a ball and let it sit, wrapped in plastic, at room temp anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Mine sat for 2.

dsc03368 Then came the rolling. I was excited, yes, I know, I’m easy. But I got to use my new rolling pin from Williams-Sonoma (Thanks again, Peggy!). It may not have been the best choice because it is short, but it worked just fine with 1/4 of the dough at a time. dsc03371 The dough should be rolled out very thin, thin enough to see light through it. Probably mine wasn’t quite THAT thin, but most of it was pretty thin. To help with the ‘thinning’ we were instructed (thanks for the videos, btw) to partially wrap the dough around the pin and stretch it sideways with our hands. dsc03372 Once it was all rolled out, we had to dry it. I wasn’t sure how long, so I just set it out and left it for a few hours. dsc03375Stored it in a large plastic box until time to make the lasagna.

Making the pasta was the one thing we HAD to do and use the recipe posted. We also had to use a white (béchamel) sauce, but we could use any recipe we chose. I used theirs. Our hosts also supplied a ragu recipe, but we could use any one we chose here, also. Oh, and speaking of hosts: The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge. And this was, indeed, an international challenge as the three hosts live on three continents: Mary from Canada, Melinda from Australia and Enza from Italy. dsc03379 Putting everything together was a breeze, as it usually is with lasagna. It’s the work before that takes time. The ragu recipe given called for veal, pork, beef, Prosciutto di Parma, and pancetta. I used Italian sausage, pork, and chuck. I could not find any pancetta or decent looking Prosciutto here, so left it out. The rest of the recipe I followed pretty closely, but decided to add some home made marinara sauce and home canned tomatoes at the end. Guess that means I made my own recipe. Then layer, layer, layer until the ingredients run out. The end result: Loved it. I haven’t made lasagna in a very long time and never with a béchamel sauce. I did add some Parmesan cheese. Sorry, it just looked like it needed it.dsc03377

Almost forgot. The pasta recipe made lots and lots and lots and lots of noodles. So I ended up cooking up all of them and the ones left over, I cut into strips for use later. dsc03393

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