Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake - Daring Bakers March 2011

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.

I loved the recipe source for this one: "Jamie found this recipe on a piece of yellowed paper in her dad’s collection of clipped out and hand-written recipes from the 1970’s, no source, no date, and she tried the recipe and it was brilliant!" This reminded me of my late Gram's recipe box. My mum is now the custodian and she has photocopied some of them for me, and I hope I'll inherit the originals one day.

The recipe calls for a sweet, buttery, yeast-risen dough, which is filled with meringue and assorted fillings and then rolled and formed into a wreath. The recipe makes 2 cakes and the hosts said we could easily halve it, but I decided to divide the dough in half and make a sweet version and a savoury version.

For the sweet one I used Jamie's filling of pecan, cinnamon and chocolate. The dough was simple to make and rose nicely. I found it tricky to roll and shape the meringue-filled dough, so my wreath was somewhat misshapen.

I also made the mistake of following the recipe literally and "rolling" the dough with a rolling pin. As I should know from making pizza, that is no way to love your dough. The end result was a cake that was a little drier and chewier than it should have been.

When it came time for the savory version, I carefully and gently stretched the dough rather than rolling it and the difference was amazing. The savory scrolls were perfectly light, moist and soft. I could hardly believe that they each came from the same batch of dough.

I made two different savory fillings, just using what I had on hand. One filling was olive and tomato, the other was pesto, potato and haloumi. I also went with "cinnamon-roll" style, which I much preferred to the wreath. Obviously there was no meringue in the savory version so it was easier to work with. I also wonder if this affected the texture in a positive way?

Thank you Ria and Jamie for sharing this interesting and versatile recipe with us. I can't wait to see what all the clever Daring Bakers came up with.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ceviche and Papa Rellenas - Daring Cook March 2011

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I made this challenge when we had friends over for dinner. These friends in fact gave me my first ever taste of ceviche many years ago, so I knew they would not baulk at the raw fish. Also as a half-Chilean family, they were good critics of the papas rellenas, which seem to be common in a number of South American countries.

I followed the challenge recipes to the letter, and also made the suggested accompaniment, salsa criolla. You can find the recipes in the Daring Kitchen archives here.

The papas rellenas took me a long time to make. So many steps, so many pans, so much mess! I had particular trouble putting the potato through my mouli and I may have taken the name of the Daring Kitchen in vain at one point. But all was forgiven when the lovely golden orbs came out of the frying pan. They simply delicious. Our guests gave them the thumbs up, but suggested they could be improved with a slightly more saucy filling.

After my adventures with the papas, I was relieved that the ceviche was so quick and easy to make. Unfortunately it came out a bit tasteless and the texture was a little rubbery. I am clueless when it comes to buying fish, so I probably didn't make a good choice there.

I was sceptical about the salsa crilloa, but it was delicious and matched perfectly with the papas.
Thank you to our host Kathlyn - I really enjoyed this challenge and I hope I will get to sample more Peruvian delicacies in the future.

It was lovely to share this meal with friends, but it did mean that any hope of decent food photography went out the window. The picture above is the best I got and it doesn't even show the lovely interior of the papa! So to make up for that I will share a picture of the cutest of our dinner guests. She ate a whole papa, what a star.