Mary Berry’s Tiramisu

Tiramisu | pajamabaker.com

The Bake Off continues! This week, they made tiramisu, which is a fairly classic dessert but unfortunately I hate everything about it. I hate the taste of coffee. I don’t really like brandy-soaked sponge because it always seems soggy every time I eat it, and I have never understood why people would want to eat it!

But, keeping up with the challenges, I had to persevere. The real trick to this cake is to make sure you don’t over-beat the sponge so that it stays light and rises a lot. This will allow you to cut it in half more easily.  Also, take your time! Don’t try to rush it, as rushing will make you mess up and you won’t have the distinctive layers this cake needs.

I didn’t have the right sized tins that the recipe calls for, so I only have three layers rather than the four it’s supposed to have, and my tempered chocolate came out all brittle and spotty so I left them off the top – but it still turned out beautifully, and one of the girls at work said it was the best tiramisu she’s ever had – so I must have done something right!

Mary Berry’s recipe below!

Tiramisu | pajamabaker.com

Ingredients

For the sponge:
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 100 grams self-raising flour
For the filling:
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 150 ml boiling water
  • 100 ml brandy
  • 3 x 250g tabs full-fat mascarpone cheese
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 3 Tablespoons icing sugar,sifted
  • 75 grams dark chocolate, grated
For the decoration:
  • 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Grease a 15×10-inch Swiss roll tin and line it with baking paper.

2. First, make your sponge. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes until the mix is very pale and thick. Gently sift the flour over your mixture, and gently fold it in using a spatula until it just combines. Do not overmix or your sponge will not rise enough!

3. Carefully pour the batter into your prepared tin, making sure to keep it level. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Let it cool in the tin for 5 minutes before gently turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

4. To make the filling, dissolve your coffee in the boiling water, then add the brandy. Set aside to cool.

5. When your sponge is completely cool, carefully slice it in half to create two thin layers of equal height. Then using the base of a 7-inch square cake tin, cut out two squares from each layer so you have a total of four squares.

6. Line the base and sides of your square cake tin with baking paper, leaving enough hanging over the edges that you’ll be able to use them to help lift your cake out of the tin when it’s set.

7. Set your mixer up with a clean bowl and place the mascarpone cheese into the bowl. Beat in your cream and icing sugar to make a creamy frosting that you can spread easily.

8. Place one square of your sponge into the base of the tin, spoon over one quarter of your coffee and brandy mixture, then spread one quarter of the mascarpone filling over the soaked sponge.  Scatter the top with a third of the grated dark chocolate. Repeat this process to create your layers for the second and third sponge squares.

9. For the final layer, place the fourth sponge square on the top of the layers and spoon over the rest of the coffee and brandy mixture. Spread a very thin layer of the filling to create a “crumb coat” on the top of the cake, then spread the rest of the filling layer on top in a thicker layer. The crumb coat will help keep any of the sponge bits from appearing on the top of your cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

10. While the cake is chilling, melt half of your dark chocolate in a double boiler until it reaches a temperature of 127ºF (53ºC). Then remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the heat and add the remaining half of your dark chocolate, stirring until it melts in and it is thick enough to put into a piping bag. Once it’s in your bag, snip off a small corner and pipe to chocolate to make decorative shapes for the top of your cake. Leave the chocolate to set until you need it.

11. Dust the chilled tiramisu with the cocoa powder before you transfer it to your serving plate, using the baking paper to help you lift it out of the tin. Then place your chocolate decorative shapes on top, et voila!

Tiramisu | pajamabaker.com

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Eclairs

Towards the end of Bake Off, one of the challenges included baking with choux pastry, which instantly reminded me of the eclairs my mom used to make when I was little.

There’s seriously something magical about watching these tiny tubes of dough literally explode into crisp, airy pastry. They instantly triple in size due to the rapid heating of the water within the dough.

My mom’s recipe for the pistachio filling involves using Jell-o instant pudding, which I had to order from Amazon. For a few of my recipes there are some ingredients that are difficult to find in stores here in the UK, but Amazon is seriously a life saver in these situations, as many American ingredients and foods are sold there.

On Bake Off, they made choux cakes, but I decided to stick to basics and make mom’s eclairs instead.

Ingredients

For the choux pastry (makes about 12-15 large eclairs):

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
For the pistachio cream filling:
  • 1 3.5-ounce package of Jell-o pistachio pudding
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream
For the chocolate glaze:
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • milk

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium pan. Once boiling, add in the butter and gently stir until it melts. Add in the flour and salt and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a doughy ball. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Add the eggs to the dough mixture, one at a time, and stir until smooth in between each addition. Place the pastry dough into a large piping bag with a 3/4-inch tip. Pipe the dough into 4-inch long tubes onto greased baking sheets.

4. Bake the eclairs for 15 minutes at 450°F (230°C), then reduce the heat to 325°F (160°C) and continue to bake for another 25 minutes.

5. Once they are baked, remove from the oven and split the eclairs in half lengthwise (like a sandwich), turn the oven off and place the sliced pastries back in the oven to dry for about 20 minutes as the oven cools. Finally, place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the pistachio filling, first whip the whipping cream until it is nice and frothy. Next, mix together the milk and instant pudding in a separate bowl, then gently fold in the whipped cream. Spoon or pipe the filling into the cooled eclair shells.

7. Finally, make the chocolate glaze by mixing melted chocolate, powdered sugar and enough milk to thin glaze.  Coat the tops of the eclairs with the chocolate mixture.

Apple Strudel

The other week on Bake Off, the contestants were challenged to make a strudel – making strudel dough from scratch. Even Mary Berry admitted to buying premade dough because it’s such a pain in the butt! Well, if Mary Berry caved in, I certainly couldn’t; therefore I had no choice but to make a strudel.

It was surprisingly difficult to even find a recipe for strudel dough. So big thanks to Linda at A Tender Crumb for posting a recipe that had both a filling and a dough.

There are two keys to making this strudel work:

  1. Take your time when stretching the dough. Seriously. Don’t rush it.
  2. Don’t use store-bought breadcrumbs to make the filling. I made that mistake and my strudel was a bit mushy in the middle. Definitely make breadcrumbs fresh at home!

This, I will admit, was a challenge, not to mention I made a huge mess in the kitchen because the flour just goes everywhere.  Anywho… here goes!

Ingredients

For the strudel dough:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour (unbleached)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

You will also need a clean bedsheet or tablecloth!

For the filling:
  • 2 Tablespoons golden rum
  • 3 Tablespoons raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs – key word: fresh
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions

1. First make your strudel dough: Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, mix together the oil, vinegar, and water. Add this mixture to the flour while slowly mixing to bring everything together into a soft dough. Then knead it on an unfloured work surface for a few minutes to help activate the gluten – this will allow the dough to stretch more easily. Take the dough and throw it hard down onto your work surface every now and then, which is great for getting out a bit of pent-up aggression.

2. Once you’ve needed for awhile, shape the dough into a ball and place it on a plate to rest. Oil the top of the dough slightly, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30-90 minutes (the longer the better, I did mine for about 40, and it didn’t want to stretch as much). While your dough is resting, you can make part of the apple filling.

3. In two small bowls, mix together the rum and raisins in one and the cinnamon and sugar in the other. Then heat 3 Tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add in the breadcrumbs and cook them for about 3 minutes, until they are golden brown and toasted. Set them aside to cool.

4. To make the strudel, you will need to stretch your dough out so thin that you can pretty much read through it.  To do this, first cover your work surface with your clean bedsheet or tablecloth. Dust and rub some flour into the fabric, then place your dough onto the surface and roll it out as much as possible.

5. Once you’ve rolled it out quite a bit, pick up the dough and let gravity do a bit of the work.  Use your hands and forearms to support the dough as you stretch it, and try to keep it in as rectangular a shape as possible. Once the dough gets too large to hold, gently lay it back onto the sheet to begin stretching. Reach your hands underneath the dough and gently pull it (coercing, really, more than pulling) by small bits at a time using the back of your hands. You need to be super careful that you don’t poke or tear any holes in it.

6. Stretch the dough until it is super thin, like tissue paper. In the photo above, you can start to see the words on the page through the dough – but it’s not thin enough yet! Once you get it thin enough, trim off the thicker sides of the dough into a straight-edged rectangle.

7. Now, back to the filling. Brush the top of your dough with about 3 Tablespoons of the melted butter, being careful not to tear the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the toasted breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs will act as an absorbant when your filling cooks so that it won’t get mushy. Then sprinkle the walnuts in a strip running parallel to the short edge of the dough, about 2-3 inches away from the edge.

8. Finally, mix the apples with the rum raisin mixture and the cinnamon sugar. Spread this mixture over the walnuts.

9. Now here’s the tricky part, and you may want to get a friend to help. Fold the short end of the dough over the filling. Then lift the edge of the fabric up, basically to create an incline that the roll will tumble down on its own. It’s really nerve-wracking, but once you’ve done it it’s actually quite cool. Then tuck the ends of the strudel underneath and brush the top of the strudel with the last of the melted butter.

10. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with some baking paper, then transfer your rolled strudel to the sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Apple Crumble

It’s been absolutely crazy the last few weeks trying to keep up with everything between work and home, so I apologize for my sporadic posting.  Ben and I just returned this week from a wonderful vacation in the Channel Islands where we were able to escape the internet and catch some sun.

I made this recipe from A Spoonful of Sugar the weekend before we went, making a few adjustments. And while my crumble didn’t look as beautiful as hers, it tasted sooooo good. So just ignore the terribly unphotogenic sample above and give it a go!

Ingredients

For the topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups (185 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) butter
  • 3/4 cup (165 grams) sugar
For the apple filling:
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the base:
  • 100 grams butter
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (150 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325° F (approx 160°C). Grease your square tin with butter then line the bottom with baking paper.

2. To make the base: Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg. Once they are combined, fold in the flour and baking powder. Finally add in the milk. Spread this batter evenly into the bottom of your prepared tin.

3. To make the filling: Place your chopped apples into a medium saucepan along with all of the other ingredients. Cook these on a low heat for about 15 minutes or until the apples start to soften. Add the softened apples on top of your batter in the tin, creating a second layer.

4. To make the topping: mix the flour, baking powder, and sugar in a medium bowl. Using your hands, rub in the butter until you get a breadcrumb texture. I also added a bit more cinnamon and about a spoonful of brown sugar to my topping for a bit of extra flavor. Sprinkle the topping onto the apples to create a third layer.

5. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden on top. Allow the crumble to cool to try and get a better slice from in, or you can be like me and dig in while it’s still warm! It may not look as pretty, but it tastes amazing warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.

 

Oreo Cheesecakes

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been craving making something with Oreos. They’re one of those cookies that once I get them on my mind, I have to eat one. They’re pretty much like crack.

These mini Oreo cheesecakes are simple and delicious! They’re from one of Martha Stewart’s recipes. Her version says that it makes 30, but I got quite a few more than that. Make sure you store these in the fridge until you’re ready to serve to avoid having them get mushy.

Ingredients

  • Oreo cookies, at least 30 (plus some extra in case you’re like me and manage to get a few more from the recipe)
  • 12 coarsely chopped Oreo cookies
  • 4 packages of cream cheese (about 900 grams)
  • 1 cup (225 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • pinch of salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 275° F (135° C).  Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.  Place 1 whole Oreo cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Gradually add the sugar, and beat until combined.  Mix in the vanilla.

3. Drizzle in the eggs, a little at a time, beating to combine and scraping down sides of bowl. Add in sour cream and salt, beat until combined.  Using a large spatula, fold in the chopped Oreo cookies. Do not use a mixer to mix in the Oreos, as they’re chop them up too much!

4. Fill each cookie-filled cup with a few spoonfuls of batter until each one is nearly filled to the top.  Bake, rotating muffin tins halfway through, until the filling is set, about 22 to 28 minutes.

5.  Transfer the cupcake pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, refrigerate them at least 4 hours (or overnight).  To help the cakes keep their shape better, leave them in the cupcake pan in the fridge.