Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 2013 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Peach Tea Soaked Savarin with Vanilla Chantilly

Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenges us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes!

Let me begin by thanking Natalia for this fantastic challenge!  She only had three weeks notice to host our April challenge, and during that time she tried several Savarin recipes to find one to share with the Daring Bakers.  Making the Savarin was not hard, but it was very time consuming, so my hat is off to Natalia.  I encourage you to check out her blog, Gatti Fili e Farina, for a bit more information about Savarin.  She also has fantastic photographs of the dough as it forms threads and for the window pane test.

In her words, Natalia told us where she found our recipes:
Recipe Source: I must tell you that I tried many recipes (we are submerged in Savarins!) and the recipe I chose is a mix of the recipes from a very famous Italian Blogger, Adriano Continisio of Profumo di Lievito, and a very famous Italian Chef : Luca Montersino. He has his show on Alice TV, a cable channel that focuses on cooking . The link to their recipes are: and For the pastry cream I followed the recipe in Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen. For the syrup I followed the recipe from Luca Montersino. 

I chose to make the Savarin on a Saturday while we had friends visiting.  If I were to make it again, I would break it down into two days.  I would bake and soak the Savarin in the syrup the day before I planned to serve it.  I would also complete steps 1 - 6 of the Pastry Cream and Chantilly recipe the day before.

The Savarin was a big hit with the adults and the young adults in our home.  I'd love to make it again sometime using a dairy free filling.  My biggest disappointment with my Savarin was that I did not soak it long enough.  I worried it would become too soggy to handle, so mine soaked less than 5 minutes.  Next time, I will add more soaking time.  That being said,  it was still delicious and our friends happily took some leftovers home with them.

Following, you will find the information and recipes Natalia shared with us. (I added my photos and a few of my own notes in bold italics.) 

Peach Tea Soaked Savarin with Vanilla Chantilly
Notes: This is a very rich dough but following Luca’s and Adriano’s tips and with the help of a mixer you won’t have any trouble! The key is to know how to handle a very rich dough. We need a very healthy and active gluten in this recipe but fats can inhibit it; so we have to develop the gluten well before adding any fat. For this reason I liked the fact that Adriano adds even the yolks after the autolyse not to disturb gluten at all. The salt crystals can cut the elastic strands of the gluten too so they are added later as the butter who is the last addition.
After the first proofing we proceed in a couple of folds to strengthen the structure of our dough with the ‘Dough Package fold’ method that will result in a smaller and tighter crumb. After that the dough will be shaped on the work bench with a method called “Pirlatura” (that is used for Panettone as well) put in the pan, proofed , baked and then soaked in a flavored syrup. In my recipe I chose to fill the hole with what we, in Italy, call Chantilly that is a pastry cream thinned with whipped cream. And then I decorated it with fresh fruit.

Preparation time:
Sponge: 30 minutes
First Mixing and Autolyse: 35 minutes
Second Mixing: 35 minutes
Proofing: 2 to 3 hours
Shaping: 20 minutes
Final Rising: 1 to 1,1/2 hour
Syrup preparation: 15 minutes
Glaze preparation: 10 minutes
Pastry cream preparation: 30 minutes
Whipped cream preparation: 15 minutes
Baking: 40 minutes
Soaking: 1 hour
Glazing: 10 minutes

Equipment required:
• Scale or measuring cups and spoons
• Stand mixer with paddle and beater or hand held mixer with dough hooks and beaters or very motivated arms!
• Dough scraper or spatula
• Grater for lemon and orange zest
• Knife for lemon and orange peel
• Small bowl for the sponge
• Bowl for egg whites
• Bowl for yolks
• Small bowl for butter
• Saucepan for pastry cream
• Bowl for Pastry cream
• Saucepan for syrup
• Saucepan for the glaze
• Brush for the glaze
• 28 cm (11 inches) Savarin mold (springform or not)
• Cling film
• Cooling rack to let the cake drip
• Pan that fits under the cooling rack to catch the drippings
• Ladle
• Big bowl for soaking the Savarin


Servings: 8/10
2½ cups (600 ml) (12-1/3 oz) (350 gm) bread flour (NOTE: measure into a separate container before beginning.)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water, lukewarm
6 (320 gm) large eggs at room temperature, separated
½ satchel (1½ teaspoons) (4 gm) instant yeast or 15 gm (½ oz) fresh yeast
4 teaspoons (20 ml) (20 gm) sugar
2/3 stick (1/3 cup) (80 ml) (75 gm) butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) orange and lemon zest (optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (55 gm) butter for greasing the work surface, hands, dough scraper & baking pan

In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons (1 oz) (25 gm) flour and yeast , cover with cling film and let rise 60 minutes  (NOTE: Next time, I will add the water and the yeast first, and then stir in the flour.)

1.After 30 minutes put the egg whites in the mixer bowl and start working with the paddle at low speed adding flour until you have a soft dough that sticks to the bowl (about 2 cups or 270 gm) and work until it comes together, cover with cling film and let rest 30 min

2.Add the sponge to the mixer bowl along with a tablespoon of flour and start mixing at low speed (if you wish to add the zests do it now)

3.When it starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl add one yolk and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour

4.Add the second yolk , the sugar and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour

5.Raise the speed a little

6.Add the third yolk and the salt and as soon as the yolk is absorbed add one tablespoon of flour

7.Keep on adding one yolk at the time and the flour saving a tablespoon of flour for later

8.Mix the dough until is elastic and makes threads (NOTE: Natalia's blog has a great photo of this.)

9.Add the butter at room temperature and as soon as the butter is adsorbed add the last tablespoon of flour

10.Keep on mixing till the dough passes the window pane test

11.Cover the dough with cling film and let it proof until it has tripled in volume 2 to 3 hours.

12.You can prepare the Pastry cream now if you chose to use it, and refrigerate it

13.While you wait prepare your baking pan buttering it very carefully not leaving too much butter on it

14.Grease your dough scraper, your hands and your work surface and put the dough on it and fold with the Dough Package Fold two or three times around (5 folds twice or three times). Cover with cling foil and let it rest 15 minutes on the counter

15.Turn the dough upside down and with the help of your buttered dough scraper shape your dough in a rounded bun

16.Make a hole in the center with your thumb and put it in the prepared pan 

17. Cover with cling film and let rise in a warm spot until the dough reaches the top of the pan about 1 hour

18.Pre-heat oven to moderate 340°F/170°C/gas mark 3

19.Bake the Savarin for about 40 minutes until the top is golden brown

20.Meanwhile prepare the Syrup
21.When the Savarin is done take it out of the oven, let it cool and remove carefully out of the pan

22.You have two choices now: you can immerse it in syrup right now or you can let it dry out (so it will lose some of his moisture that will be replaced by the syrup) and soak it later on.

23.To immerse it in syrup it is a good idea to place it in the mold you baked it in (I’m afraid a spring-form one wouldn’t work for this) and keep adding ladles of syrup until you see it along the rim of the pan. Or you can just soak it in a big bowl keeping your ladle on top of it so it doesn’t float. Once the Savarin is really well soaked carefully move it on a cooling rack positioned over a pan to let the excess syrup drip.  (NOTE: I feared the syrup would overflow from my bundt pan, so I attempted using a bowl first.  However, the Savarin kept floating, and the bowl was too narrow at the bottom to allow the top section to soak.  So, I returned it to the bundt pan and carefully ladled the syrup over the top.  In the future, I would allow my Savarin to soak at least 5-10 minutes.  If it becomes too soft, I could always place my cooling rack over the sink and carefully turn the Savarin onto the rack.)

24.The soaked Savarin gains in flavor the next day

25.Whatever you decide the day you want to serve it glaze it and fill the hole with your filling of choice and decorate it. You can serve the Savarin with some filling on the side.

26.Enjoy it !

Peach Flavored Syrup:

Servings: 1 savarin
1½ cups (350 ml) peach tea
1½ cups (350 ml) peach juice
1½ cups (350 ml) water
1 cup (240 ml) (8 oz) (225 gm) sugar
zest of one lemon
one cinnamon stick (Note: I substituted 1/2 tsp of cinnamon)

1.Combine tea, water, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil
2.Let boil 5 minutes and remove from the stove

3.When cooled a bit add the peach juice.

Pastry Cream and Chantilly:

Servings: 1 savarin plus some for serving
2 cups (500 ml) milk
¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) sugar
zest of one lemon
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1¼ oz) (35 gm) cornstarch
¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

1.In a saucepan bring to a boil milk and sugar (Note: I added the zest here.)

2.In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and sugar

3.Add the hot milk to the eggs one tablespoon at the time to temper it

4.Pour in the saucepan again and bring to a boil stirring constantly

5.When the cream thickens remove from the stove

6.Put cling film onto the cream (touching the surface) and cool

7.Pour 1 cup (250 ml) cold heavy cream in mixer bowl with the whisk attachment

8.Beat until whipped
9.Combine with the cooled pastry cream adding a tablespoon at the time of whipped cream until it gets to the right consistency. Or it looks right to you !


Servings: 1 savarin
2 tablespoons (30 ml) apricot Jam
2 tablespoons water

1.In a saucepan mix jam and water and warm up

2.When the savarin is cool and soaked brush it with the glaze

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:
You can store the dried savarin for 5 days in a closed container. If you have soaked it cover well with cling foil and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

White Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Just before Easter, I stumbled across a Facebook page titled: "The Lunch Box Lady."  Although a photograph of an amazing polka-dot cake drew me to the page, the photo that truly grabbed my attention displayed chocolate covered strawberries decorated like Easter eggs.  I would like to thank "The Lunch Box Lady" on Facebook for inspiring this fun idea! (If you use Facebook, I encourage you to look up the page.  The berries pictured on her page are much prettier than mine.  There are also a lot more great ideas!)

White Chocolate Covered Strawberries inspired by "The Lunch Box Lady" on Facebook

This year, at our annual Easter get-together, my family presented our extended family with small Easter-themed dishes full of these yummy treats.

Please feel free to cut the recipe in half.  We wanted plenty to share with our family!

2 2-lb packages of fresh strawberries with stems
2 bags of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips*

Other Items Required:
Microwave-safe bowl
Wilton gel food coloring*
Wax Paper
Large cookie sheet
Quart-sized zip-top freezer bags

*Note: Colored candy melts may be substituted for the white chocolate and gel food coloring.  Using liquid food coloring could cause problems with the consistency of the chocolate.

1. Wash the strawberries and set them out on paper towels to thoroughly dry.  (My boys gently dabbed any remaining moisture off with paper towels, prior to dipping.)

2.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper

3. Place three-fourths a bag of chips into a large microwave safe bowl and microwave them at 50% power for 30 seconds.  Stir the chips and continued to cook at 30 second intervals at 50% power until the chocolate stirs into a smooth mixture.  (Add more chips and reheat if necessary.)  Do not overheat the chocolate.

4. Dip the dry strawberries into the chocolate and set them onto the lined cookie sheet.

5.  Melt a smaller batch of white chocolate chips and add gel food coloring.  Once mixed, drizzle the colored mixture onto the strawberries.  (I scraped the colored chocolate into a small zip-top baggie, cut a tiny section from one corner of the bag, and squeezed the chocolate onto the berries.  For the dots, we dipped toothpicks into the colored chocolate and dabbed them onto the strawberries.)

6. Repeat step 5 with other colors of your choice.

Our berries did not last long!  However, I found this article at with great tips for storing chocolate covered strawberries. 

If you make this tasty treat, I would love to hear how yours turn out!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 2013 Daring Cooks' Challenge: Chicken Ballotine

For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine.

Prior to this challenge, I had never heard of Chicken Ballotine, and I had no idea there were recipes that involved a deboned chicken.  In fact, I had never heard of deboning a chicken.  Learning that butchers charge $40.00 to $80.00 to debone a chicken pretty much blew me away.  In the end, it was not really difficult.  And to think, without this challenge, I never would have experienced this incredibly delicious meal!

I did find the process of deboning the chicken time consuming.  However, that was due to my complete and utter ignorance.  And, I must thank my boys for taking turns pausing and rewinding Jacque Pepin's video again and again and again, as I muttered, "What did he just do?  How was he holding the bird? Oh!  That's all I had to do?!"  It must have been a comical sight.  After work, my husband found me in the kitchen and burst into laughter at the expression on my face as I set to my task.

What is Chicken Ballotine?  A chicken that is boned, stuffed, and rolled in a bundle.  And it is delicious!  (My pickiest eater did not care for it, but even he agreed he should have and that his taste buds must be defective!)

The ingredients for this meal cost me about $31.00.  However, it could have been closer to $13.  I chose a $12 bottle of Chianti for the sauce (chicken broth would have saved at least $9.)  The block of Appenzeller Cheese cost nearly $10 (Mozzarella would have cut my cost by at least $6.  I very rarely by Appenzeller, so I was happy to have an excuse to splurge!)  And, had I made a trip to Costco, I could almost purchase 2 chickens for the $8+ this one cost me at the grocery store.) 

Key things to keep in mind:
1. The importance of a CLEAN workspace - before, during, and after.  You will want to be sure everything is sanitized, including the towels, counter tops, cutting boards and knives when you are done.
2. Be careful removing the wishbone.  It will be the first bone you remove and it can break easily and puncture your finger.  Use a towel to grab onto it to cut/pull it out, if necessary.  (This part made me nervous, as I am a klutz.  I was absolutely thrilled I managed to remove the bone whole!  It's the little things in life...)
3. Save the carcass (and the wings) to make stock.  Seal it in a freezer bag if you will not be making stock immediately.  It will keep up to one year.  (My husband uses our chicken carcasses to make THE best chicken noodle soup.)

I prepared the stuffing first (so it had plenty of time to cool), removed the bones from the bird, and made the sauce while the Chicken Ballotine was cooking. 

If you do not have wonderful helpers to stop and rewind the tutorial video for you, you can wash your hands well and do it yourself, or you could wrap a clean towel around your hand each time and attempt to control your mouse with the clean towel.

Chicken Ballotine
with Spinach, Cheese and Bread Stuffing 
This challege recipe was taken from Essential Pepin - KQED.orgI encourage you to visit this site for the Red Rice Stuffing option, for more details, and for a recipe to make chicken stock with your carcass.

Preparation Time: will vary
Deboning the chicken: 15 minutes to 1.5 hours - it gets faster with experience!
Stuffing: 5-10 minutes, plus cooling time
Sauce (optional): 5-10 minutes
Roasting time: 1 hour

Equipment required:
● A very sharp knife to cut off the wings (recommended - a chef’s knife)
● A very sharp knife that fits your hand comfortably, to debone the chicken. (recommended - a boning or paring knife)
● Clean, sterile cutting board
● Lots of kitchen towels
● Cotton kitchen twine
● Roasting pan

Servings: 4-6

1 chicken (about 3-3/4 pounds) (1-3/4 kg), boned (click here for video tutorial - and be careful!)

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) (1¼ gm) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) (½ gm) freshly ground black pepper
Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing (see recipe below)
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry red wine (you can substitute chicken or vegetable stock or fruit juice, such as grape)
1 celery stalk (2 oz) (60 gm), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (1¼ cm) dice (1/2 cup) (120 ml)
1 small onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 carrot (2 oz) (60 gm), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (1¼ cm) dice (1/3 cup) (80 ml)
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) potato starch OR cornstarch (4 gm), dissolved in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 gm) chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
2. Lay the chicken skin side down on the work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the chicken - stuffing the legs too. Sprinkle the cheese and bread cubes on top of the spinach. Roll the chicken up, tie it with kitchen string, and place it in a roasting pan. (Directions for tying the string are on the deboning video.)
3. Roast the ballotine for about 1 hour or until the temperature is 160-165 degrees F in the center of the ballotine. 

4. Make sauce while ballotine is roasting.  See directions below.

1. Prior to stuffing the ballotine, I covered the deboned chicken with plastic wrap and pounded it with a mallet to make it easier to stuff & roll.
2. I was only able to find smoked Gruyère.  After consulting with a helpful gentleman at the deli counter, I substitued Appenzeller Swiss Cheese.
3. After tying the ballotine, I drizzled a bit of olive oil onto the bird and rubbed it over the skin to help it brown.  

Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) finely chopped garlic
5 ounces (140 gm) baby spinach leaves
1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) (½ gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (240 ml) grated Gruyère or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces/115 gm) (I used Appenzeller)
1 1/2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) (1¼ cm) bread

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet. Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute to soften the garlic and wilt the spinach.
2. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. 

For the sauce:
1. Skim off and discard most of the fat from the drippings in the pan. Add the water and wine to the drippings to deglaze the pan, and heat over medium heat, stirring to loosen and melt the solidified juices.
2. Strain the juices into a saucepan. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the dissolved potato starch and soy sauce and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring, to thicken it. Remove from the heat.
3. Transfer the ballotine to a cutting board and remove the string. Cut half of it into 4 or 5 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Return the uncut half of the ballotine to the serving platter and arrange the cut slices in front of it. Pour the sauce over and around the ballotine, garnish with the parsley, and serve. Cut additional slices of ballotine as needed at the table.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips: Wrap up any leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If not using bones, scraps and carcass from chicken for a stock or any other preparations, immediately, seal tightly in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 year.
boned, pounded and sprinkled with salt and pepper

layered with spinach mixture, cheese, and bread
stuffed, rolled and tied
cooked and ready to carve
sliced - oozing delicious cheesy stuffing

Hmmm... I just realized my photos do not include the sauce, which my husband thought was amazing.  Three-fourths of my family declared this a make again meal.  In fact, we may be serving it to guests next weekend, it was that good!  Apparently, there are hundreds of stuffing combinations.  Oh, the yummy possibilities!

Again, I would like to thank  Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet for this fantastic challenge.  

Thank you for stopping by!