Tips on How to Bake My St. Germain Bundtlette Cakes with Success

 

I recently made St. Germain Bundtlette Cakes on my YouTube channel and I have some tips for you to ensure success.

There are specific methods to mix cakes depending on what you are making. The St. Germain Bundtlettes use the creaming method of mixing. Utilizing this method always results in a beautiful, light and tender crumb to any cake.

This method always starts with softened butter and granulated sugar being mixed together in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment. The mixing basically forces air into the butter. This creates tiny air bubbles that will work together with the chemicals leaveners, baking powder and baking soda, to create a nice light crumb with tiny air bubbles throughout the finished bundtlettes. They almost melt in your mouth!

Next the eggs are added, one at a time, making sure that each is incorporated before adding the next.

Now the dry and wet ingredients are added in an alternating manner to create a creamy light emulsion resulting in a rich, thick cake batter. I usually add 1/3 of the dry ingredients first, followed by 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Combining these ingredients on low speed helps to prevent too much gluten from developing. Too much gluten development would create a tough cake.

Stop the mixer periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl with dry ingredients that have not been blended in well. After scraping down the bowl, I add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining wet ingredients. I end with adding the remaining dry ingredients, blending the mixture just until all of the ingredients are well combined. STOP MIXING AT THIS POINT or the cake will bake up tough.

Be sure you heavily spray the bundtlette pan with nonstick cooking spray. Bundtlette pans have nooks and crannies so smear the spray around with your fingers or a paper towel to cover all surfaces or the cakes will not come out!

The biggest tip I can give you is to NOT over fill the pans. Only fill each bundtlette 1/2 full. They will rise quite a bit.

After baking, do not remove them right away. Allow them to cool until they feel just lukewarm. I made a batch and tried to remove a few of them when they were too warm, and they broke as I took them out. Trust me, I ate every one of those broken baby bundts. It was for quality control and research purposes, and I enjoyed every crumb!

I then made a scrumptious St. Germain syrup to soak those bundtlettes in. The syrup is very easy to make. It’s just a simple syrup to start, which is simply equal parts water and sugar brought to the boil until the sugar dissolves.

I allowed it to cool down and then added my St. Germain liqueur. I then gave each of my little cakes a dunk in the pool flipping them over in the process.

Remove the cakes and place them onto a serving plate dusting them with powdered sugar before serving them.

Try these little cakes, and remember, when you make individual cakes, there is NO sharing.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Useful Tips When Baking My Chocolate Babka

I recently created a YouTube video on how to make the most scrumptious Chocolate Babka ever! Babkas are rich, sweet, European-style yeast breads filled with anything from cinnamon and sugar to nuts and jams and my favorite flavor– the Chocolate Babka full of chocolate bits, cocoa and brown sugar.

Now many people may say, “Oh, pleeze, it’s too much effort to making a Babka”. To the naysayers I say, you are mistaken. The small amount of effort needed is so well worth it that I guarantee you’ll be baking Babka before you know it. A little alliteration never hurt anyone either!

The yeast dough is quite easy to put together, especially since instant yeast is used. Instant yeast can be combined right in with the dry ingredients. No more proofing the yeast with warm water and waiting to see if it’s alive. I use instant yeast, also, known as fast-rising yeast, for all of my yeast breads.

The addition of rich ingredients such as: whole milk, butter and egg yolks makes the dough feel silky and satiny. This dough definitely feels different than a pizza dough. It is important to remember that rich yeast dough will not rise as high because the fat-based ingredients actually shorten the gluten strands within the dough which will create a more tender baked good. Enough baking science.

After the dough has risen, it is cut in half. Be sure that you don’t just rip it with your hands. Take a chef’s knife or a dough cutter and CUT it in half. This way you won’t destroy the gluten strands which could prevent your dough from rising later on in the oven.

Next we roll out each half to a large rectangle. Like I say in the video, try not to use any flour if you can. Too much flour can create a very DRY yeast bread. Now if you really need a bit of flour go for it, but use as little as possible. The dough is so silky that it rolls out beautifully and I don’t get need any flour at all!

Once you place the filling over the dough press on it with a rolling pin to help the filling adhere to the dough. Now as you roll up the dough, from the longest edge into a very tight spiral, be sure to gently pull back to create an even tighter log. If you do this you will get a well formed Babka with many lovely spiraled layers of chocolate filling peaking through after baking. Trust me, it is a beautiful thing!

The log is then cut in half crosswise. The two smaller logs are crisscrossed and twisted, and then gently placed into a loaf pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and has had the two longest sides covered in parchment paper and then sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Next a light streusel topping is scattered on top and the loaf is baked for 40-45 minutes or until nice and brown. Every oven is different so a good rule of thumb is to rotate the loaf pan halfway through the baking time.

It’ll smell so good when it comes out of the oven, but don’t be tempted to take it out of the pan until it has cooled. Babkas, may seem old world, like a lost art. However, making and eating Babkas, is NEVER a lost art. Try this recipe and experience what I am talking about.

I’ve included the link to the YouTube video, if you want to watch me make one:

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Love Those Culinary Romance Novels

I am a sucker for romance and food, so when I read my first romance novel with a culinary theme I was hooked! I never knew it was a “thing”. There are so many wonderful culinary themed romance novels out there to be read and enjoyed.

My latest find is an adorable book called “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake”. It was written by Amy E. Reichert. I won’t give the plot away, but if you want a fun, light read with some food and romance all packed into one, this is the book for you.

What I love about these novels with a food theme is that very often the author provides a wonderful bonus after the book has been enjoyed. Sometimes recipes for the foods mentioned in the book are given at the end. I love this aspect of the food themed novel.

In “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” the author provides a most delicious recipe for coconut cake at the end of her book. When I read through the recipe I immediately wanted to make it. We have coconut fanatics in my family, who shall remain nameless, so it was a MUST bake recipe for me!

I have made a lot of cakes in my day, but I must admit this coconut cake is SPECTACULAR!!! Even the picky fanatics were extremely pleased. What was unusual about this recipe was that it used a mixing method that I don’t see very often in cookbooks. It is known as the Two-Stage method. Most cakes use the Creaming method or the Blending method.

In the Two-Stage method, the dry ingredients like the flour, sugar and chemical leaveners are all mixed with the butter. Then the liquid ingredients are added in 2 stages. Hence, the name Two-Stage.

The coconut flavor really came out because of the addition of the trifecta: cream of coconut, coconut milk AND coconut extract in both the cake and the frosting. I sprinkled toasted coconut shavings in the middle of the cake on top of the first layer, and then all over the cake including the top and sides. This created a nice crunch in every bite.

Life is too short and crazy! My recommendation? First, go out and get this book.

Second, read this book. It really is sweet! And third, MAKE THIS YUMMY-LICIOUS CAKE! If you are crazy for coconut you will not be sorry.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

To Pineapple or Not To Pineapple, That is the Question!

The big debate nowadays is whether to put pineapple on a pizza or not. No offense to those Hawaiian pizzas with spam and pineapple, but I say NO to that. There is one exception, however! I will explain in a moment.

I love my Margarita pizza with pizza sauce, lots of mozzarella and basil, so I guess I am a traditional pizza lover. However, if we change the subject to dessert pizzas then that is a different story.

Picture pineapple on this glorious concoction:

A baked pizza crust fresh from the oven. Top it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, drizzled (heavily) with chocolate sauce and then topped with all sorts of chopped fresh fruits such as: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and YES to fresh pineapple!!!

This dessert pizza is easy and simply DEVINE!!!

Try it sometime and get back to me about this pineapple “thing”.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

 

 

Customizing Desserts

I usually follow recipes unless I have a specific preference about one or more of the ingredients that I may wish to swap out. As long as you know the role that the specific ingredient plays in the recipe and replace it with a similar ingredient, you can customize your own desserts.

This is easily done in cooking, but can be tricky with baking. For example, if I wish to add scallions instead of shallots to a recipe for meatloaf the final dish will still work out. However, if I wish to swap eggs for applesauce in a baked good that may not work. Eggs give structure and thicken while applesauce has no protein to speak of.

My mother did this substituting thing frequently all through my childhood. That is the primary reason that I learned how to handle myself in the kitchen–self-preservation!!

The worst substitution she ever made was for Thanksgiving one year.  Gravy calls for a thickening agent like flour or cornstarch, right? Well, even though mom had neither of those, she did have baking powder. And like she told me,” it’s white and a powder, right??” Needless to say, the gravy exploded up and all over the ceiling!  This is a true story. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

I typically don’t buy buttermilk and just use thinned out Greek yogurt when I need a cultured, acidic dairy product to make pancakes or biscuits. Since I am swapping out one acidic dairy product for another it will work fine with no ill effects in the final baked good.

Substituting a light butter for a fully fatted butter works well too. It’s an easy swap out and works great if the recipe calls for the creaming method. The bonus is you are saving saturated fat calories, yet still maintaining the integrity of the original recipe.

The craziest substitution that I have ever made was using pureed tofu instead of eggs for a cookie recipe. And you know what? They were pretty good. So who would be nutty enough to do this? Perhaps someone with an egg allergy who still wishes to have their cookies and eat them too. Remember one of my past blog entries on black bean brownies??

So experiment and make workable substitutions to create baked goods that are customized to your families’ likes and needs.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Sneaking a Kiss on Valentine’s Day

Every year I like to surprise family and friends with something special for Valentine’s Day. Since my birthday, which is Valentine’s Day, actually falls on Tuesday this year and I teach on Tuesdays, I thought I would make a special treat for my class.

This recipe is so simple anyone can make it. The recipe is for a Chocolate Dipped Marbleized Pink Meringue Kiss. Not only is it easy, it is also gluten free!

Here’s how to make it:

Beat 4 egg whites in an electric mixer on medium speed until very foamy. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (which will stabilize the meringue) and keep beating on medium speed.

Gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar about 1 tablespoon at a time. Once all of the sugar is added, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Now go full throttle and beat the meringue at high speed for about 8 minutes. The meringue should look very stiff; almost like marshmallow fluff.

Remove the mixing bowl from the motor. Add a few drops of red food coloring and fold in the color, with a rubber spatula, until it is almost completely blended in. Now drop in several more drops of red food coloring, but this time, barely mix the color in, just until there are streaks and the mixture looks like pink marble.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag that has been fitted with a large plain tip half full of meringue, and pipe out “kiss-like” shapes allowing the top of the meringue to form a point before you release pressure on the pastry bag. Re-fill the bag ,using up the remaining meringue, and keep forming several more “kisses”.

Bake the “kisses” for 2 hours rotating the pans after 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. They should be firm, but not have any color to them. Note to self: the 2 hours the “kisses” dry out in the oven goes fast and it is unsupervised time. You can go about your business while they are doing their thing.

Now we dip:

Melt some dark chocolate and dip the bottoms of each “kiss” into the chocolate and place it back onto the same sheet pan. Chill the “kisses” in the fridge until the chocolate has hardened. If you use compound chocolate, which has no cocoa butter in it, you can keep the “kisses” at room temperature to harden. Either way, the chocolate hardens VERY quickly. That is why this such a GREAT last minute gift idea! You may even find yourself sneaking a few kisses before you even give them to anyone.

Place your “kisses ” in a clear bag and tie with a red ribbon. Give to the sweetie of your choice and watch how many kisses you get in return!!! Ooo LALA!!!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Baking!

Chef Gail