Monday, September 26, 2011

Gingerbread Souffle

You know you have a serious sweet tooth when you're laying on the couch most of the weekend with a bad head cold and can still motivate yourself to bake dessert. I'm not sure if making this was good for my heath since dairy and head colds are not a match made in heaven, but my inner child thinks it's a damn fine idea. Then again my inner child thought it made sense to eat cheese puffs for dinner tonight.

I haven't made a lot of souffles in my lifetime but even so, it still seemed like a lot of time was required required between steps. In other words, this is not a recipe to whip up on impulse and serve it for dinner. Between steeping and chilling, it takes at least 3 hours before you can even fold the egg whites in and pop the souffle into the oven. However, I was pleased with how well it turned out considering I used gluten free flour. Well, and also because my fear of working with egg whites still continues to worry me anytime I have to whip egg whites. 

Overall, a solid B+. It may be an A by the time this head cold is over and I find a sauce that would work well with the gingerbread flavor.  Although the recipe calls for a white chocolate vanilla creme anglaise, I wasn't terribly fond of the combo and would like to try the souffle again with a different flavor contrast.

Gingebread Souffle 
In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
3 large egg yolks
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnmaon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
4 large egg whites room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Unsalted butter and sugar for coating dishes
Individual Souffle Dishes 

1) Combine milk and vanilla bean in 2 quart heavy duty saucepan. Bring to just below a boil on medium high heat, then remove from heat and allow to infuse for 1 hour.

2) In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and molasses together and set aside. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, spices and salt. Add 1/2 cup infused milk to flour mixture, whisking to form a thick paste. Add more milk if paste is too thick. Scrape paste into pot containing remaining milk and place over medium heat. Whisk constantly and cook mixture until thickened and smooth, approximately 5-7 minutes.

3) Pour hot mil mixture into bowl containing egg yolk and molasses mixture. Whisk to blend. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of mixture and cut several slits into the plastic wrap, allowing stem to escape. Chill mixture a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

4) Allow souffle base to come to room temperature for 1 hour before baking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously coat souffle dishes with butter and sugar so that it is thoroughly lined, including rims.

5) Whip egg whites in very clean bowl until just foamy before adding cream of tartar. Whip until very soft peaks form before gradually adding sugar. Fold egg whites into base mixture in 3 parts, then divide amongst individual souffle dishes.

6) Place dishes on cookie sheet in center of oven for 16-20 minutes. Edges will appear slightly darkened and matte. Serve immediately using sauce of choice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nutmeg Spice Cake

When, oh when oh when oh when will I learn to READ the directions thoroughly when I'm baking.

Although you can't tell from this picture, I had made a gorgeous buttercream frosting earlier in the day. I'm talking glossy, fluffy almost too pretty to eat it buttercream. Which got stored in the fridge as I'd made the frosting before the cake. And then, the disaster. I pulled it out of the fridge and immediately started to mix it again in the stand mixer instead of bringing it back to room temperature first. The worst of it that I attempted to fix it on my own by throwing things into the buttercream to thicken it and pull it back together when all I had to do was leave it alone for another ten minutes and let it mix itself back into shape.

Still, never mind, the cake was really good. And in an effort to put a positive spin on my comprehension skills, I like to think that I saved myself a few thousand calories because had the frosting been delicious, I would have eaten it straight out of the bowl and skipped the cake altogether. Which would have been a shame as the cake is really good.

I made a few modifications to the cake by doubling the spices as I had attempted this once before sans frosting and wasn't terribly impressed with the flavor of the cake. I also submitted gluten free flour for the regular flour and cut back on the baking time by 5 minutes.

Overall grade: B. I liked the cake quite a bit. The frosting, even before I desecrated it, was a bit heavier and and butter than I normally like my frosting. I would definitely try the cake again, maybe with a apple based frosting that I think would go great with spiciness of the cake.

Modified from "Flour" by Joanne Chang 

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups gluten free flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2  tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup nonfat buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and oil on medium speed for 1 minute or until well combined. Slowly add sugar and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until combined.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. On low speed, add 1/3 of flour mixture to egg butter mixture and mix until just barely combined. Pour in half of buttermilk and mix until almost thoroughly incorporated. Add half of remaining flour and mix until just combined, adding remaining buttermilk and mixing until incorporated. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes (25 if using smaller cake pans) or until cakes spring back when pressed in middle. Let cool completely before turning out on rack.