Monday, May 28, 2007

Strawberry Lemon-Curd Trifle

Happy Memorial Day! The boyo and I got invited to a bbq, and I was put in charge of dessert! Since the boyo loves fruit and strawberries were on sale, I went searching for a light, strawberry-ey dessert that was easily portable. Compliments of, this is a Strawberry Lemon-Curd Trifle. I was slightly pressed for time, since dessert wasn't all I was responsible for, but next time I would add ~1/4 cup more sugar to the pound cake, use vanilla beans in the whipped cream instead of extract, add 1-2 tsps of balsamic vinegar to the strawberry puree to bring out the full flavor, and double the lemon curd recipe. I'm still very pleased with it though, although I've only tasted the individual parts. Overall taste to be determined this afternoon!

Please note: it is very important, especially for the cake, that the ingredients be room temperature. They don't blend together correctly otherwise.

Pound Cake:
* 1 3/4 cups (230 grams) cake flour, sifted
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup (226 grams) (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 cup (200 grams) superfine or castor sugar
* 4 large eggs, room temperature
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* Zest of a lemon or orange (optional)

Strawberry Puree:
* 1 - 20 ounce bag (570 grams) of frozen unsweetened strawberries or 20 ounces of fresh strawberries
* 1/4 - 1/3 cup (50 - 65 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste
* Freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

Lemon Curd:
* 3 large eggs
* 1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
* 1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest
* 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
* 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces

* 1/2 pound (225 grams) fresh strawberries, sliced
* 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream
* 2 - 3 tablespoons (25 - 35 grams) granulated white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 4 crushed Amaretti Cookies or ginger cookies (home made or store bought)

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a pan spray, a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter or spray the paper. Set aside while you prepare the batter.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (this will take about 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. After about five minutes the batter should be light in color and fluffy in texture. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. You will notice that the batter will look curdled. Don't worry as the batter will come together again after you add the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, if using, and beat until incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep several days well wrapped or it can be frozen for a month.

Makes one 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf.

For the Puree:
Place the unsweetened frozen strawberries in a large bowl and thaw. This may take a few hours. Once thawed, put the strawberries and their juice in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process the berries until they are pureed. Pour the puree into a 2 cup (480 ml) measuring cup. You should have about 1 1/4 cups of puree. Add 1/4 cup (50 grams) of the sugar to start and stir until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Can also add a little lemon juice to taste.

Store covered in the refrigerator for one week. The sauce can also be frozen.

Makes approximately 1 1/4 cups (300 ml).

For the Curd:
In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week.

Makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml).

For the Trifle:
Have ready the pound cake, the strawberry sauce, sliced strawberries, lemon curd, and whipping cream.

To make the whipping cream: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

To start: In the bottom of your trifle bowl place thick slices (about 1/3 inch thick) of the home made or store bought pound cake. Fill in any gaps with pieces of the cake. Pour half of the strawberry sauce over the pound cake. Top the strawberry sauce with half of the sliced strawberries. Then pour half of the lemon curd over the strawberries. Top with half of the whipped cream. Repeat the layers. Cover and refrigerate for 8 and up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to mingle. Just before serving sprinkle the top of the trifle with the crushed Amaretti cookies.

Serves 10 - 12 people

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinnamon Buns

Oh goopy gloriousity! This recipe, compliments of the food network, is brilliant. A couple of notes though: when rolling out the dough to spread the filling, roll it out thin. I ended up with thick layers of bread which, while good, weren't as permeated by the filling as it should. Also, the basic brown sugar-cinnamon filling wasn't exciting enough for me: I peeled and chopped up a couple Granny Smith apples really fine and tossed them in with the filling, as well as a handfull of pecans. Apple Pie Buns! Truly delicious.

* 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
* 1 large whole egg, room temperature
* 2 ounces sugar, approximately
* 1/4 cup 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
* 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
* 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
* 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately
* 2 1/4 teaspoons
* 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt Vegetable oil or cooking spray

* 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately
* 1 cup packed 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
* Pinch salt 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately
* 1 1/2 tablespoons

* 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately
* 1/4 cup 3 tablespoons milk
* 5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Note: it is really important that the eggs, butter, and buttermilk are room temperature. They won't blend together if they're too cold. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes.

Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough.

Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.