Sunday, November 22, 2009

Raised Waffles with Warm Brown Sugar Bananas

Waffles! I love breakfast items :D This was my week to host the SMS Bakers. I chose the Raised Waffles with Warm Brown Sugar Bananas.

Though it took a bit more prep (overnight) than normal waffles, I really liked this recipe. My husband thought it tasted very much like a dessert... bananas foster. I actually preferred the waffles with good ole' maple syrup. Either way, give this a try if you like waffles!

To my fellow SMS bakers, it has been a while! Over the past month I moved from Italy to the U.S. For the next couple of months I will be in Ohio visiting family. In addition to the big move, I am pregnant! A LOT going on... In lieu of that announcement, I will tell you that I have no desire to cook or bake : ( This happened to me during my last pregnancy too. I will be taking a short hiatus until the nesting phase kicks in. Happy baking!

Raised Waffles with Warm Brown Sugar Bananas

For the Waffles

1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 Tsp active dry yeast
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups whole milk
1 Tsp kosher salt
1 Tsp sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 Tsp baking soda

For the Brown Sugar

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup light rum
2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

To make the waffles

1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve and activate.
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the milk; the butter mixture should be warm but not hot.
3. Add the butter mixture, salt, sugar, flour and nutmeg to the yeast mixture. Using a wire whisk, beat until smooth.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.
5. When you are ready to cook the waffles, preheat the waffle iron.
6. In medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and baking soda and immediately whisk them into the batter. The batter will be very thin but smooth.
7. Spray the waffle iron with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Cook the waffles according to the manufacturer's instructions.

To make the bananas

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the brown sugar and salt, and stir over medium heat until melted and bubbling.
2. Remove from the heat and add the rum, then carefully return the pan to the heat. Be careful when you add the rum and return the pan to the heat. The rum is going to flame up, but it will go out momentarily. Once the flame is out, burn off the alcohol, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the slice bananas and stir to coat. Add the maple syrup and bring just to bubbling.
4. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Serve the bananas warm over the waffles.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Giveaway Winner

Thanks to those who participated in the giveaway. Jaime of Good Eats n' Sweet Treats is the winner, chosen by!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Giveaway!

I will be moving back to the U.S. very soon and wanted to share some yummy Italian treats with my readers.

Up for grabs: Pasta, Spicy Olive Oil, Tomato Paste, Gelato, Baci Candy, Duplo Candy Bars & Ringo Cookies!

Leave a comment with your favorite go-to week night meal (and a link/recipe if possible!). A meal that you know is fantastic, easy and you can always fall back on.

For example, I always make some version of my spicy chicken... it can be a crowd pleaser or just for my husband and me.

Here is a version of my recipe that I sometimes make, Chicken Parmesan.

This competition is open to
EVERYONE and will run until October 2nd. One lucky winner will be announced Monday, October 5th!

Good luck!

Caramelized Onions, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins

This week's SMS challenge Caramelized Onions, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins was chosen by Hanna of Hanna's Kitchen. These were super yummy. An unexpected savory treat. I made these for a brunch and they were a hit!!

p.s.-I used Red Onions, Fresh Sage, Sharp Cheddar Cheese... and served them warm!


The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

I actually thought this was pretty labor intensive. Perhaps because of the temperature here in Italy. I was only able to do 1 or 2 "turns" before the butter would start to ooze.

My overall rating of this pastry... thumbs down. It really was not that great. My curry chicken salad filling was tasty, but not the pastry itself.

If you would like to check out the recipe, click HERE.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barbie Cake

I made this cake for a Barbie Princess birthday party. It was fun, but I can say I will be making another one any time soon. To be honest, Barbie was a *itch! She had a meltdown on the way to the party (note to self: do not transport a Barbie cake for 30 minutes!). In any case, the birthday girl loved her.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Perfect Pound Cake

This week's SMS recipe, Perfect Pound Cake, was chosen by Michelle of Veggie Num Nums. Click HERE for the recipe.

Was this the perfect pound cake? Ahhhhhhh, I wouldn't say perfect. The flavor was good. The fresh white peaches and cool whip were good. My only wish is that the cake was not so dense. I would prefer it to be a little more light and fluffy. Nevertheless, a nice addition for Sunday brunch today!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Well, this recipe was a flop for me. Literally. Shortly after this picture was taken it fell. Is it bad to say that I sneaked a bite to taste it? I mean, I had to know if I would make it again, right? Besides, the part I ate was safe from the floor!

My verdict is... no, I would not make it again. No love for the strawberry salad :( It was to Jello-y for me. The crust was good and the cream cheese fill was good. Also, I think I would have preferred fresh strawberries... I am not the biggest fan of the frozen strawberry taste.

If you want to give this week's My Girl Paula recipe a go, here is the link. There were plenty of people that did enjoy it!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

[mini] Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cakes

This week's SMS challenge was chosen by Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker. The Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake is a decadent and rich dessert. I decided to half the recipe and then make (4) minis. I am so glad that I did that because a full cake would have been overkill for me. My husband was out of town, so I had to pawn 3 of the minis off! My friends were happy to help out!!

Although I did have ice cream and chocolate sauce with one of them, I thought that they were better with a just little powdered sugar. I ended up cooking the minis for 25 minutes and they were slightly crisp on the outside with a soft souffle center.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dobos Torta

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

As you can see, there are no caramel wedges on the top of my torte. I have to admit, this was not a fun recipe for me. In fact, I am quite envious of the other Daring Bakers who did a spectacular job on this month's challenge. I stopped playing along after 3 1/2 hours. The carmel layer was said to be the trickiest, so I skipped it. I was beyond frustrated that it took so long to get this far. The recipe is a lot of effort that produces very little to eat. The torte is so small that it was only enough dessert for 3 or 4 people.

That said, it had a very good taste. Though to me, the taste did not match up to the effort. Honestly, it may have been easier to create thin pancakes and spread buttercream between the layers. Sorry to be a downer, I guess every recipe is not for everyone.

If you would like to give this recipe a go, here it is:
Dobos Torta

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Blog Design by Delicious Design Studio
Clicky Web Analytics