Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Coconut Dome Cake

This cake was born from the marriage of Orange Mimosa from Simple Art of Perfect Baking and Coco Cabana from Cocolat. I made the genoise dome from the first book while I borrowed the filling and decoration idea from the second one; and I wrote the recipe the way I made it. Since my genoise was a dry one, I had to increase the syrup quantity; feel free to use even more if needed. Instead of apricot preserves, I used a combination of orange and apricot preserves favoring the orange, since I thought that this would reinforce the theme introduced by the syrup and candied orange peel. The cream-coconut filling for the inside was too much, so I spread the leftover cream over the dome and reduced the cream amount for the outside accordingly. (While the original recipe called for 1 1/2 c cream, I whipped only 3/4 c and used even less.) Since I do not have a zester, my candied orange peel was too thick and stiff, giving the cake a funky look. When Rana first saw it, she laughed and said, "Funny Pasta!" in her half-English, half-Turkish language. The questionable look aside, this cake tasted very good, with a pure coconut flavor followed closely by an orangey note--just what I had hoped to achieve.

4 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 c orange juice (substituting rum)
6 tsp sugar
1 3/4 c heavy cream
3/4 c shredded dried unsweetened coconut
7-inch Genoise dome (recipe below)
1/4 c orange and/or apricot preserves
1 c dried unsweetened large flake coconut
Candied orange zest (recipe below)

In a small bowl or jar, combine lemon and orange juices, 3 tsp sugar and 4 tbs water. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Whip 1 c cream with 2 tsp sugar just until it holds soft peaks. Fold in 3/4 cshredded coconut, set aside.

Use a serrated knife to cut the genoise dome, horizontally into 3 layers. Place the widest bottom layer cut side up on a plate. Sprinkle with the orange juice mixture. Spread almost 2/3 of the preserves over moistened layer. Top with almost 2/3 of cream and coconut filling. Moisten bottom side of second layer. Place it over filling. Repeat this way to reconstruct the dome, using the leftover orange juice mixture to moisten top and sides of the dome as well. At this point, you can wrap and refrigerate the cake, or freeze it up to a month.

Whip remaining 3/4 c cream with the remaining 1 tbs sugar until nearly stiff. Spread cream over dome to mask it evenly. Cover with dried large-flake coconut and a few candied orange zests for color. Rest in the refrigerator for several hours so that the dried coconut has time to draw moisture from the slightly under-whipped cream.

Genoise Dome

1 c unsifted cake flour
1/2 c plus 2 tbs sugar
6 egg whites, at room temperature
5 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Grease the inside of a stainless steel mixing bowl with solid shortening and dust generously with flour. Preheat oven to 375F. Sift the flour three times. With an electric mixer, whip the yolks on high speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the sugar gradually and continue whipping until the mixture appears very thick, increased in volume, and pale yellow (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add the vanilla toward the end of whipping. The egg yolks should form ribbons that slowly dissolve on the surface when lifted with the beaters and allowed to fall down.

Whisk the egg whites on low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium, add 1 tbs sugar and whip until soft white peaks form. Add the second tbs of sugar and continue whipping until whites appear glossy and stiff but not dry (about 2 minutes).

Fold 1/3 of meringue to yolk mixture to lighten it. Then add another 1/3 of meringue and sprinkle half the flour and fold to combine, scraping sides as necessary. Add last installment of meringue and flour and fold just until smooth and incorporated. (The egg yolks will be thick thus making folding somewhat difficult.)

Pour into the prepared bowl and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown in color and springy when touched on the top. Let cool on a rack for 2 hours. Gently tilt and tap sides before unmolding the cake.

Candied Citrus Zest

1-2 bright-skinned oranges, lemons or limes
1/2 sugar
1/4 c water

Use a vegetable peeler or zester to remove the zest(colored part of the skin only) of the fruit of choice. Try to obtain as long and wide pieces as possible. Pile a few zest pieces on top of each other, and slice into fine julienne about 1 1/2-2 inches long. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir to mix sugar. Cover and leave to simmer for 30 seconds until sugar is dissolved. Add the julienned zest, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Uncover and let the zest cool in the syrup. Remove from syrup and drain on paper towel before using. (I have to say that I forgot it in syrup until next day, and it was clumped together with dried sugar.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Asparagus Quiche

Here is something savory for a change. The recipe does not come from one source, but is rather a combination of several ones. It got rave reviews from the Doganata family.

For the pie crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
4 tbsps unsalted butter chilled, cubed
3 tbsps cold water
1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
1 lb asparagus tough stems peeled, sliced and two spears reserved
3 green onions sliced
2 tbsps flour
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsps chopped fresh dill
pinch of nutmeg and dry mustard

For the pie crust, put the flour, butter and salt in your food processor bowl and mix for 1 minute. Then add water a little at a time and process until it forms a ball. If you wish, rest it in the refrigerator for an hour. I don't find this necessary. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400F. Roll the dough into your 9.5 inch pie pan. Prick with a fork all over and bake for 10 minutes.

For the filling, turn the oven down to 350F. Cook asparagus, including the spears in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and cool. Keep the spears aside. In a bowl combine asparagus, onions and flour. Spread it to the bottom of the pie crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Whisk eggs, half-and-half, dill, nutmeg, dry mustard, salt and pepper well. Pour it over. Bake for 20 minutes and put asparagus spears over bake for 15 minutes longer. Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Chocolate Cream Pie

I recently indulged myself and bought 6 removable-bottom tartlet pans. I was planning to make little cream-filled tarts topped with glazed strawberries and kiwis this weekend. So on Friday I got organic strawberries, the smallish kind that smells and tastes like the strawberries I used to eat as a child in Turkey. They were so good that we ended up eating them for breakfast on Saturday, and I had to think of something else to make. In situations like this, chocolate is the first thing that pops to my mind. And so it was, a chocolate cream pie from one of my Pillsbury booklets. Easy to make and fast to disappear! There are only a few pieces left now, and I don't think that they will live to see the morning light. Unfortunately though, the pictures did not come out as good as I hoped since we had a very rainy and cloudy weekend.

Pie Crust for a 9-inch pie pan (recipe)
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 c milk
1 c semisweet chocolate chips (or 6-oz chocolate, cut into tiny pieces)
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the prepared pie crust. Bake it blind until light golden brown. (You can either fill it with some kind of weight or pierce it with a fork to ensure uniform baking.) Cool completely.

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt; mix well. Gradually stir in milk. Add chocolate chips and egg yolks. (At first, this will look like a hopeless lump, but as the chocolate chips gradually melt, the mixture comes together.) Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese, beating until smooth. Refrigerate until just cool, about an hour. You may have to rebeat if a skin has formed. (Alternatively, you can cover the surface with plastic wrap, but I did not want plastic touching the hot custard.)

In large bowl, beat whipping cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Reserve 1 cup of whipped cream for topping. Fold remaining whipped cream into cooled chocolate mixture. Spoon evenly into cooled crust. Spoon or pipe reserved whipped cream over filling. Refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.