Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

We were great Top Chef Just Desserts fans. We were watching it through the YouTube channel of a Korean guy who was living at that time in New Zealand. Recently I found they've banned him :((  Why?! Come on people, how are supposed Bulgarian guys to watch an American show?

Whatever. This recipe comes from the baker Eric Wolitzky, who showed great recipes but his plating was always in a quandary. Now I see why. We liked the cake, a lot, but we were out of ideas for plating it. It would have been better if we had some vanilla ice cream but we were too lazy to make some. Besides it's still too cold for ice cream.

Oups, one of the cherries run away...or someone ate it...

Note: In our adaptation of the recipe(below) we've diminished the sugar and butter content 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe:
Adapted from Eric Wolitzky (Top Chef Just Desserts, Season 1, Episode 2, Elimination Challenge) 

For the Caramel:
  • 100 gr dark brown sugar;
  • 50 gr white granulated sugar;
  • 80 gr butter;
  • 1 Tsp rum;
For the Cake:
  • 80 gr butter;
  • 150 gr granulated sugar;
  • 210 gr cake flour;
  • 2 tsp baking powder;
  • 3 gr salt;
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom;
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 200 gr sour cream;
  • 2 tsp rum;
  • 1 pineapple cleaned and cut into rounds or whatever shape you like;
  • 10 pitted sour cherries soaked in rum(optional).
Heat brown and white sugar with butter in a small saucepan until melted and bubbling. Add rum and whisk. Spread this mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 10” (25 cm) cake pan. (We used rectangular one).

Arrange the pineapple rounds and sour cherries on top of the caramel. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 175ºC.

Make the cake batter. Sift dry ingredients together. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in eggs, vanilla and rum. Mix in half of dry ingredients. Mix in all of sour cream and then remainder of dry ingredients. Pour on top of pineapple and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for around 30-33 minutes. Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kouign Amann

one of the kouignettes
 I had no idea of what kouign amann was and it would have been all the same to me if it wasn't David Lebovitz who made me crave for it. A week ago I had my birthday and instead of making a fancy looking gateaux or a luscious entremet I ended up with these – a 20 cm kouign amann and 2 little kouignettes. Strange choice for a birthday dessert. Even Ivan was suspicious of what I'm doing.

Now I can say I love kouign amann, but making it was nerve-wracking. The dough is sticky and very hard to work with but this is how it should be. Usually I find working with dough to be a calming and relaxing thing, but not with this one. Although it got on my nerves, the end result was a buttery and caramelized deliciousness. But the next time I make it, I'll definitely add more flour and try it with not so sticky dough.

the big one

Kouign Amann Recipe:
Adapted from David Lebovitz
  • 7 gr fresh yeast;
  • 175 ml tepid water;
  • 260 gr all purpose flour;
  • 4 gr salt;
  • 110 gr salted butter (since salted butter ain't popular here I had to replace it with ordinary butter and added ½ tsp sea salt crystals for the salty effect);
  • 200 gr sugar (divided) + additional for rolling out the pastry;
  • 1/3 tsp sea salt crystals;
  • 2-3 Tbsp melted salted butter.
Note: Bench or pastry scraper is a must here. It will help with turning, as well as to keep the dough from sticking to the counter top.

In a large bowl dissolve yeast in water. Sift in the flour and salt (the 4 grams), then combine to get a sticky dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes. I did this with the electric mixer equipped with the dough hooks.

David suggests “If the dough is very sticky, knead in just enough flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands.” But apparently I've slept through this when reading his instructions and didn't add any extra flour so my dough was sticky as hell. Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place to double in bulk (about an hour).

On a lightly floured counter top roll the dough out to a rectangle(A4 size, large side toward you). Mentally divide the rectangle into 3 equal vertical parts. Distribute the butter into the middle part, then sprinkle 50 grams of the sugar on top. Fold the rectangle as you would fold a letter. Sprinkle the entire length of the folded “letter” with 50 gr of the sugar and (without rolling) fold again into thirds, as before. Cover in a bowl and place for an hour in the fridge to chill.

Dust the counter lightly with sugar, then roll the dough out to a rectangle(A4). Sprinkle with 50 more grams of the sugar and half of the sea salt crystals. Again fold in thirds and let rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC and brush a baking pan with butter. The dough is supposed to fit in a 23cm baking dish, but I made it in a 20cm one and 2 small ramequins.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Lightly dust the counter top with sugar and roll the dough out to a circle(the size of the baking dish). Transferring it into the baking dish is a hard task, but use the bench scraper to help yourself. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar and sea salt crystals on top and drizzle with 1 or 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes (30 for the kouignettes). The top must be nicely caramelized. After taking out of the oven let it stand for a few minutes, then run a spatula around the edges and slide the kouign amann onto a wire rack.

If you restrain yourself and don't eat it immediately warm it up in the oven before eating.

We are sending this to Susan from Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.


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