Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Battenburg Cake

Baby is in bed, wife is out on the town with “the girls” and a sense of dread has settled over the country after inaugurating a reality tv host to be our president. What’s a man to do? Bake! FRIDAY NIGHT! And what kind of baking do you do at 9:00 pm? Cakes (which never seem to work out well) that require homemade marzipan (never done that before!) and toasted rice to be ground with a coffee grinder (WHAT?).

I’ve been wanting to make a Battenburg Cake for quite a while, but you know, when you have a toddler sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to get around to doing something a little more complex than normal when there’s absolutely no reason to do so. I mean, a Battenburg requires you to bake a cake, let it cool, cut it into strips, slather with jam, and wrap in homemade marzipan. Not things you can do effectively with a toddler “helping.”

Well, not terrible. Tastes good. #baking

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I used the recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, and I think it would have worked better had I a 7″ square cake tin. As it turns out we only had a 9″, so I think the batter was spread a bit too thin, resulting in more of a flattenburg cake than a Battenburg, but it still came out kinda pretty and tasted ok.

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I think the most impressive bit is how easy it was to make Marzipan. It just takes a ton of sugar and a couple eggs and ground almonds. WHO KNEW? (Mary Berry). So anyhow, I will get a smaller pan and my next one won’t be as flat, but I’m going to go ahead and call this a success right here.

BOOM!

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Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Weihnachts Kugelhopf (Christmas Kugelhopf)…a daddyPrimate riff on a classic Kugelhopf

If you read my previous post about Kugelhopf you already know it’s a 15th century Austrian yeast-raised cake that’s not really cake but not really a bread either and somewhere in between in texture and flavor. Or maybe I wrote that post poorly. Well, mommyPrimate got a gift card to Sur la Table and bought a really beautiful “bundt” pan that looks a bit more like a kugelhopf mold to me, so I decided to have a second go at it. I got the recipe once again from Epicurious but somehow I got the magic right a little better this time.

Christmas Kugelhopf proving on the counter. #baking #proveyourself

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When I made the dough this time, I don’t think I got the milk quite as hot. I may have had a little bit of a yeast die-off last time from too-hot liquid ingredients. I also put blobs in the pan (which I sprayed with coconut oil and floured pretty aggressively) by hand instead of dropping it in like a comforter in a washing machine. Once the blobs were in, I aggressively smoothed out the dough with a lubed up spatula (Lubed Up Spatula, by the way, is the name of my new band.) I let it rise for two hours.

Risen! #boom

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After a two hour prove it looked like this. BAM. I credit the success of this prove to my lucky tea towel that has my daughter’s name on it. There is no other secret to my success. So, now that the dough had risen, I tossed it in a 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes, slid some foil on top, and let it go another 20 minutes. It was soft and bounced back when I touched it with my finger, and a wooden skewer inserted came out clean.

Cool down faster I want to decorate you and go to bed! 😴😴😴#baking

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After about 3 minutes or so I tipped it out of the pan and it came out cleanly. No idea how that actually happened. I credit dumb luck, the lucky tea towel, and the liberal application of coconut oil and flour on the pan. Now, while this beautiful beast cools down a little, I’ll tell you about why it’s a Weihnachts Kugelhopf instead of just a Kugelhopf.

Basically, we didn’t have a bunch of sultanas lying around, but we DID have a bunch of fresh cranberries. And oranges. So I tossed in whole fresh cranberries while it was mixing, and flavored it with orange zest. Cranberry and orange is about as wintry of a flavor combination as I can come up with. Christmas is in two weeks. BOOOOM! Weihnachts Kugelhopf. I bet your mind is BLOWN right now.

Cranberry orange kugelhopf with candied cranberries and oranges #baking #cakes

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Now, to decorate this beautiful lady of a cake, I candied fresh cranberries and mandarin orange slices by boiling them in simple syrup for about an hour and cooling them in the fridge. I dusted the cake with icing sugar, then creatively placed the candied fruits in the crevasses. This may very well be the most spectacular baked good I’ve ever brought into this world, AND I WILL TAKE IT RIGHT BACK OUT.

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The texture of this kugelhopf came out MUCH more pleasantly than the last one I baked. It’s similar to what you would expect if an angel food cake and a brioche had a baby. It’s soft, light, spongy, but not too sweet. It’s wonderful, and its rightful place is at breakfast, I think.

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If you’d like to try to bake one of these, use the recipe I linked above, and swap out the raisins with fresh cranberries. Your taste buds will thank you.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Kugelhopf

One of the  most alluring concepts for me in baking is old recipes. When the Great British Bake-Off series that aired in the U.S. in 2015 explored yeast-raised continental cakes, there was one that caught my eye…the Kugelhopf. Finally presented with an opportunity that was appropriate to make this old Austrian recipe, I had a look at the ingredients, decided I had everything, and got to work.

So, Kugelhopf is a recipe from the Habsburg Dynasty in Austria that apparently got its name from the shape of the pan resembling the disembodied head of a Turk. The cake was originally baked to celebrate the Habsburg victory over the Turks at the Battle of Vienna in 1485. That makes this a 15th century recipe.

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So basically, you melt butter in milk and dissolve sugar in it, form a “volcano” of flour and yeast in your mixer, and pour the liquid into the dry as it mixes. When it comes together you add orange zest and raisins, let it beat until the gluten forms nicely, and plop it into your kugelhopf mould. Of course, I don’t have a kugelhopf mould (yet…Christmas is coming), so I just used a bundt pan.

It bakes for 15 minutes, gets covered with foil so the bottom doesn’t develop too much of a tan, and then continues to bake another 25 minutes or so. I “topped” mine with apricots, but they burnt to  a crisp so I pulled them out and pretended that the inlaid pattern of light and dark was done on purpose. Pro-tip: people will believe anything you tell them about baking because they don’t do it themselves.

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So it turned out pretty well. It’s not a cake, per se, because it’s not very sweet and has a much more bread-like texture. I think next time I may double the orange zest, and use cranberries instead of raisins. You know, for Christmas.

At any rate, kugelhopfs are good, and I recommend them to anyone who has to take something to work for a potluck.

The end.

 

Learning to Bake with daddyPrimate: Victoria Sponge – lack of failure is success!

Finally made a Victoria sponge that didn't totally collapse #baking

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The grand finale of the Great British Baking Show as shown in the US (last year’s version, for my British Friend) featured a challenge of baking traditional British cakes. Given my complete lack of success with Victoria Sponge, I felt inspired. I used mommyPrimate’s new book as the recipe was slightly different than Paul Hollywood’s, well the ingredients were the same, however the process was a bit difference.

While I didn’t get a domed top, I at least didn’t get a saggy middle. I think the domed top will happen when I either adjust the recipe to make just a touch more batter or use smaller tins. At any rate, it’s delicious. I’m slightly concerned about the fresh strawberries I used for the filling (along with strawberry jam) turning into, uh, fermented strawberries before we can finish the cake, but if we don’t put all of this butter and sugar into our systems I guess it’s okay.

Is this a Victorious Sponge? I’d say yes. Seeing as it took 4 tries, and probably about $15 worth of butter/flour/sugar to finally get a decent result, I think I’ll call it a Pyrrhic victory.

 

 

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Victoria Sponge, ROUND TWO!

After my first attempt at a Victoria Sponge, I waited until it was my turn to bake desserts again…then I declared loudly and proudly, “PEOPLE OF THE WORLD, I WILL BE SUCCESSFUL THIS TIME. I WILL MAKE A VICTORIOUS SPONGE!” And so began my second try at making Queen Victoria’s favorite cake.

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The directions in Paul Hollywood’s book say that you should beat the dry ingredients (equal parts flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and 4 tsp of baking powder) just until they are evenly combined. I think that my first attempt I took that too literally and didn’t get them combined well enough, so I turned on the mixer and let it do its thing for a couple of minutes until the batter was smoother, though the butter wasn’t completely smoothed out. I paid a bit more attention to spreading it into the baking tins evenly, too. Then I put it in the oven and did some squats and deadlifts.

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I checked on it about 20 minutes into the bake and it looked like it was rising evenly. 25 minutes later it wasn’t quite even any more, but rather it looked as if it was rising slightly quicker around the edge than in the middle. I let it stay in the oven for a full 30 minutes, then pulled it out (hehe) to let it cool.

So they weren’t perfect, but they weren’t quite VICTORIOUS either. I let them cool and then made the whipped cream. I added a little Elderflower Liqueur to make it just a little more posh and Northern Euro-Exotic. Once it was whipped I slathered on jam, and then kinda stacked the cream a little higher in the middle to fake out the shape of the cake.

I dusted her down with icing sugar, and took a look. It’s way way way better than the first attempt, but definitely not a clear victory. I think this is just a Victoria Sponge, not a VICTORIOUS Sponge. I shall overcome this challenge.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Victoria Sponge, a lesson in failure

I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to make something out of my new copy of Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake, and it finally arrived at the beginning of the week. The book is great, the recipes are laid out exactly in the fashion that I like and measurements are given by weight instead of volume. Wonderful. Since I’m on a dessert week, I thought I’d start with a cake that is apparently the quintessential basic-baker cake of England; the Victoria Sponge.

The description of a Victoria Sponge made it seem like something really special, and when I just searched for the image above (hahaha, wait until you see what MINE looked like) I realized that a Victoria Sponge is a cake-sized Madeleine! How delightful (it also means I got the texture right-ish!)
This leads to the actual baking. He (my good friend Paul Hollywood) said to put all the ingredients in the mixer and mix on low speed until everything is mixed, but not too long or the batter would tighten up as it cooked and become tough. So how long  is  long enough and how long is too long?
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I decided to err on the side of too short of a mix. I put it all in my stand mixer, turned it on, and waited until I could no longer see globs of butter, then I put the batter into the cake tins and into the oven. It needed to bake for 25-30 minutes. I watched. I watched as the batter started to rise. I worried as I realized that it wasn’t rising as fast in the middle. WTF was happening? Well. It never rose in the middle.
It doesn’t look too bad when photographed from this angle, but from straight on, holy hell.

Victoria sponge #fail #bakingfail #cake #cakewreck #lol

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LOL. It’s the most depressing looking Victoria Sponge on the internet. That said, it tastes pretty good. I need to try again, and do all the cream and stuff that Paul Hollywood said wasn’t classic, but this was a good start. Next time it will be a VICTORIOUS SPONGE.

Learning to bake with daddyPrimate: Black Forest Cake (Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen)

I’ve made cakes before. From boxes. I’ve even made a cake from scratch before, but that got rolled up into a swiss roll for a Buche De Noel. I’ve never made a three layer cake and stuffed it with booze-soaked fruit until today. As promised in my last post, I’ve made a Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen, or for you non Deutschsprecheren, a Black Forest Cake.

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This cake is German, and as I have some German blood in my veins and minored in German language in college, I wanted it to be as damn authentic as possible. I found a recipe that really spoke with me, because the post started out with As a German woman…and though I am neither German nor a woman, I was looking for an authentic recipe from Deutschland for this cake. Also the description was for a dessert that wouldn’t be too sweet but would really kick you in the head with alcohol. HELLO.

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So I baked the cakes. Rather than using baking powder the recipe called for buttermilk and baking soda, a combination which I learned yesterday is just mixing an acid (buttermilk) with a base (baking soda) which is how the cake gets its rise. I evenly divided the batter by weight into 3 9″ baking tins and popped them in my oven for about 20 minutes, let them cool, and then covered them with kirschwasser that I soaked the cherries for the filling in overnight.

So I stacked it, assembled it with a layer of booze-soaked cherries in between each layer of sponge, and iced it with whipped creme (and more booze) icing. By the way, holy shit does an offset spatula make it easy to ice a cake or what. WHO KNEW?

Black Forest #cake open for business #baking #desserts #dessert #foodporn

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So after dinner we sliced it open, and I looked on with trepidation as mommyPrimate took a bite. She liked it! I was really worried that the cherry flavor was making it too sweet, but honestly with the chocolate-not-too-sweet sponge and the bite of the alcohol in the cherries it wasn’t too sweet at all. Good thing, because we’re eating this thing until later this week when I take on a Victoria Sponge.