Category Archives: Daring Bakers Challenge

Daring Bakers Challenge – Macaroons

Yep, funny how Daring Bakers always forces me to finally make something I’ve always wanted to but keep putting off. Do you know how long the Australian Gourmet Traveller with the pretty pink macaroons has been sitting in my recipe holder on the kitchen bench? SINCE IT CAME OUT. In July. Yeah.

This month’s challenge was brought to us by LA Monkey Girl.
It wasn’t a big success I must confess. They were too fragile and the ganache I used (from the Gourmet Traveller) was too runny so what I ended up with was a pink hot mess. Sure, a delicious pink hot mess but a mess all the same.
Next time I’ll:
- use old egg whites
- follow the instructions Tartlette – the apparent queen of the macaroon – gives
- not make them when I’m feeling frazzled, pressed for time, making other things for the school’s Spring Fair.
Onward!

Macaroons
Adapted from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
  • 2 1/4 cups (225g) icing sugar
  • 2 cups (190g) almond flour (which everyone seems to define as almond meal)
  • 2 tbsp (25g) sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  1. Preheat the oven to 93°C. 
  2. Combine the icing sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery
  3. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks
  4. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients
  5. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter
  6. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper)
  7. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 190°C 
  8. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored
  9. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. (who is she kidding – I got about 5 dozen)


Daring Bakers Challenge – Vol au Vents

OH DUDES AM I BACK!

After quite the hiatus this month I resumed the mantle that is a Daring Baker and well, if it wasn’t irony I don’t know what it was. The challenge posted to us all by A whisk and a spoon was to create vol-au-vents. VOL-AU-VENTS! Forget your initial ‘how retro’ reactions and move straight to the O.N.E. pastry, about the O.N.L.Y. recipe I shy away from and definitely one I have never ever made or attempted and VOILA! You have puff pastry.

I just thought it would be fiddly and hard and a disaster waiting to happen.

DUDES – having made them today I realise that fear has lost me a good FIFTEEN years of puff pastry goodness.

Oh look, I know I know, the lovely little layers you’re meant to see are not there, but this was my first attempt and it tasted divine and was still quite flaky.

Best of all? It is so GODDAMN easy. No really, it is. And you know what? Home made puff pastry is seriously up there in goodness and flavour and nomnomnomness. Like, the Mt Everest of home baking. I’m still on quite the high.

What a way to come back into the fold! (haha! geddit! fold! Oh. Never mind.)

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2 1/2 pounds dough

Go watch this video for a Julia Childs hit and for technique.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour (I replaced this with 120g all purpose and 25g cornflour)
  • 1 tbsp salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations – I used 2 tsp)
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
  • 1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

1. Mixing the Dough

  1. Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. 
  2. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
  3. Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 2.5cm thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

  1. Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour with your rolling pin, press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ (25cm) square. 
  2. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. 
  3. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick centre pad with “ears,” or flaps.
  4. Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. 
  5. If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends you should now have a package that is 8″ (20cm) square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

  1. Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). 
  2. Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (61cm) (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) 
  3. With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
  4. With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. 

You have completed one turn.

  1. Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. 
  2. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. 
  3. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

  1. If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. 
  3. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
  4. The total number of turns needed is six. 

If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Steph’s extra tips:
-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don’t want the hard butter to separate into chunks or break through the dough…you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don’t roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  2. Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces.
  3. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. 

If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. 
  2. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
  3. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. 
  4. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
  5. Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centres from half of the rounds to make rings. 
  6. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
  7. Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
  8. Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
  9. Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. 
  10. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. 
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. 
  12. If the centres have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the centre “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
  13. Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
  14. Fill and serve.

I filled mine with some left-over chicken pot pie filling (recipe to come) I had in the freezer. I topped it up with some additional cream and young asparagus spears. DIVINE.

More tips!
*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to “glue”). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).


Daring Bakers Challenge – Cheesecake Pops

So, this month the challenge was set by Elle and Deborah and well, YUM.
But you know me, I’m not good at the fancy and the fiddly, so I was a little scared, particularly when some DBs posted their results on our secret site which were, well, bloody impressive.
Anyway, we had a gathering at a friend’s place yesterday and I thought they’d be great to take so it was game on.

Of course, I didn’t envisage getting gastro in the middle of preparations.
I can vouch for the cheesecake being delicious in and of itself, but as to how they taste dipped in chocolate and doused with sugary morsels? I’ll have to take the children’s verdict on that one, which is that they are an absolute winner.

Cheesecake Pops (Makes 30 – 40 Pops)

  • 5 x 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Boiling water as needed
  • Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks (I forgot to get these so we just had balls and other assorted shapes)
  • 1 pound chocolate, finely chopped –all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) – Optional

  1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
  2. Set some water to boil.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

    It’s a LOT of cream cheese

  4. Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

    Eat straight from the tin with a spoon just to check it is OK

  6. When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.

    This is a lot harder than it sounds. I realise now that what is cooked for cheesecake is undercooked for cheesecake chocpops. It was a divine consistency if it had been for a slice of fat-for-the-hips, but for rolling into balls? It was nearly impossible. Gloop is a good word for the bits near the middle but you know, I perservered.

  7. When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate.
  8. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined.
  9. Stir until completely smooth.
  10. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
  11. Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
  12. Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set.

    In light of my balls-up of the balls (haha – geddit) I did some slices/squares and half dipped them, which also looked quite impressive.

  13. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed. Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

You know, normally, I probably would have vacuumed down a dozen of these without blinking. But making them coincided with me being struck down with a virus that involved my body working hard at exiting food rather than ingesting it. Shame really. The children have given them a big thumbs up. Prior to them succumbing to the same illness.

So, by some bizarro world twist of fate, a whole container of cheesecake chocpops sits in our fridge, untouched.


Daring Bakers Challenge – Perfect Party Cake


Ok, I think I’m breaking rules here in that I didn’t post this on the designated day. The thing is, if I didn’t make it or post it then it was two months in a row that my life got in the way of being a Daring Baker and well, that’s just not good enough.

Besides, I’ve always wanted to make a fancy pants layered cake – you know the ones – smothered in a meringue butter cream and doused with shredded coconut.

Check.it.out.

Today featured an afternoon tea with some kids Oscar started school with – it was a program which ran for two years and students then moved into a mainstream setting. Well, that was the goal. Some did, some went to special schools, some went to special classes in mainstream schools. Needless to say, there were some who came over today who we hadn’t seen for two years. So bad.

Oscar just loved that there were ‘his’ friends over for a playdate. A first. It was quite hilarious really because – hello lots of special needs kids many happily play on their own. It was the best, non-house-trashing play date ever.

And it seemed fitting for a cake of this magnitude!

Perfect Party Cake Baking from My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan

Words from Dorie

Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake

  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing

  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
  • About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready

  • Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans (I used 8 inch because I didn’t have 9 inch ones) and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. l
  • Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk together the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  4. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
  5. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
  6. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
  7. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
  8. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
  9. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
  11. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
  12. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream

  1. Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
  2. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  4. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
  5. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
  6. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
  7. During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
  8. On medium speed, gradually beat in more lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
  9. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
  2. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
  3. Spread it with one third of the preserves.
  4. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
  5. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
  6. Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
  7. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.


Serving
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.


Storing
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Party Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.


YIKES

I just realised this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was meant to be posted today.

In my head it was tomorrow.

Crap.

I missed last month’s efforts because, well, my February blew big fat ugly carrot chunks and the day of posting was also the day I had Oscar in hospital for his botox shots.

So now I’ve missed today. But was planning to post it tomorrow, so that is still my goal.

Crap.

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