Sunday, October 28, 2007

This baker's daring!

If you read food blogs, chances are you're already an admirer of the Daring Bakers - a fine group of bloggers who strive for growth in pastry and confection arts through monthly challenges. Well, ladies and gents, I am now a newly minted Daring Baker and this is a photo my DB debut:


I was a long-time lurker on many DB sites because I didn't think I could hack it. In particular, when they attempted Martha Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake in April 2007, I just about resigned myself to being a silent fan.

However, the lure of being able to improve my craft was great. I knew that being part of DB means moving out of my comfort zone. Finally, I mustered enough courage to take on this month's challenge, the Bostini Cream Pie.


Mary, our gracious hostess for this month's challenge, has the full recipe on her blog. Her site Alpineberry features elegant recipes and gorgeous photos, and I am an avid reader. The Bostini was the top recipe in 1996 and "maybe for the entire 20 years" according to The San Francisco Chronicle. In case you missed the nutritional info at the bottom of that article, I'm repeating it here –

Per serving: 1,170 calories, 15 g protein, 75 g carbohydrate, 93 g fat (50 g saturated), 561 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

Let me assure you though that this dessert is as decadent as its calorie count! The vanilla custard is deliriously wonderful, and then to pair it with rich chocolate is just... well... toe-curlingly good.

The cake base is an orange-flavoured chiffon baked in a heart-shaped mold. Having made foam-based cakes before (see my génoise), I was not as nervous in tackling this recipe. For those inclined, Baking 911 has excellent info on chiffon cakes. A step-by-step tutorial article is available to registered forum members.


My vanilla custard, which in this recipe has the consistency of crème anglaise, was a different story. Valuable lesson: boiling cream can be dangerous. Once the cream reaches a certain temperature, it will foam and expand rapidly. Turning off the stove will not stop the process once its already going. There is a real potential for burns and an actual messy stove.

I like to work with a lot of heat when on the stove. British thermal units and I are tight. When cooking, I always hear myself saying, "more BTUs, more BTUs." Manifestly not good for boiling cream or making custard. This helpful article from Baking 911 states, "when any custard is made on the stove top, it must be cooked slowly, taking at least 10 minutes." Because of my impatience, the custard curdled slightly. After straining through a fine-mesh sieve none would be the wiser quality and taste-wise, though I must have lost ten percent of the custard.


I urge you to check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll and be sure to see everyone's renditions of the Bostini. It's about challenge as much as it is about camaraderie. This is not at all like that clique of high-strung bakers at the office who turn the yearly cookie exchange into a cut-throat event. Quite the opposite. The support is effusive and the environment friendly. This is why I am proud to display on my blog this badge of honour:


Some random notes ~
  • The Rake Magazine has a fascinating essay about the closet beginnings of the chiffon cake.
  • I used only a quarter of the recipe with no deleterious effects (usually, cake recipes do not take well to being divided more than half).
  • The recipe in full calls for about 13 egg yolks. For an easy way to do this, see this video from Dyann Bakes (hit play then move slider to halfway).
  • A more open-textured chiffon can be achieved if only the bottom of the baking pan is greased, and if it is inverted over something tall while the cake cools in it.

74 comments:

glamah16 said...

Julius,
Great posting. You have really done your research and love your informative links and info. Especially the calorie bit which I will try to ignore because it was so worth it! Your Bostini looks lucious. I cant wait to see what more you create.

kellypea said...

Congrats on completing your first DB challenge! I enjoyed your post, the photos are spectacular, and the info tidbits you provide are very helpful. I'm not quite done with mine...it's 3:30 here. But I'm almost there! Now I need to cruise throught some of your other posts...

Anh said...

I love how you have the custard filling in the middle. The running custard and chocolate are so perfect!

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Very well done on your first challenge. Your photos are beautiful and I love your post!

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Welcome! Its looks great! I hear you on the lurking of the DBers, I did the same. I'm getting a little better each time. Its wonderful to be a part of huh!?

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Welcome! Its looks great! I hear you on the lurking of the DBers, I did the same. I'm getting a little better each time. Its wonderful to be a part of huh!?

Julie said...

Hooray, Julius! It's absolutely lovely, and I love all the extra info and links! You presented this project wonderfully. *hugs*

Christina said...

Congrats on your first completed challenge! I'm quite impressed by the rise your cakes had.

Love your pictures, each one makes me want to re-bake the recipe again!

Claire said...

Great pictures! I love the heart shape.

Melinda said...

Hi Julius. Congratulations on joining the DBs! Your Bostini Cream Pie looks like it turned out excellently - the photos are wonderful! I liked the extra information you've added (apart from highlighting the calorie count!)

skrockodile said...

Thanks for the post ! Love your post - love the heart in chocolate on your heart shaped cake!

Anne said...

I heart everything heart shaped :) Your photo's are really stunning and your post as whole is pretty well detailed. wow! You did pretty well on your first challenge. I'm glad your a DB :)

Dwiana P said...

Julias, first time here. Nice blog you have and that chocolate??? WOW!

Lis said...

Julius, you've taken my breath away with those gorgeous photos!

Well done! Well done!

I really enjoyed reading this post.. I so look forward to what you've got in store for us in the future. =)

xoxo

Brilynn said...

Congrats on your first challenge! I love that you made it your own with the heart mold.
Btw, my cream always boils over...

Elle said...

(My first comment on this month's challenge as you were the first to comment on my post..sweet!)
Lovely post and fantastic photos. I like that you made them heart shaped. Sorry that the custard didn't work out as you had planned, but it looks yummy the way it is. Very delicious looking chocolate. SO glad that you are a Daring Baker!

Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita said...

Great job, Julius! Your chocolate part came out gorgeous :)

Alice Q. said...

Very cool - what a fun post - and your cake looks delicious!

Pille said...

Julius - I never realised a portion containes over half of the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult woman. That's crazy -who'd want to eat that (despite of lovely taste)!?! Thank god we plated much, much smaller portions:)
I love your photos - lovely presentation!

Anne said...

Yeah, that nutritional info ALMOST made me back out of this month's challenge! But I'm glad I didn't - I just made really tiny servings :)

Baking Soda said...

Calories I hear you! (Worse...I can feel them too!) Nice job!

eatme_delicious said...

Looks beautiful and great photos! :) The chocolate glaze looks incredibly good.

Jenn said...

Your bostini looks gorgeous, I like the heart shape, it makes it that much more inviting.

www.chocolateshavings.ca

Jenn said...

And I just took a lot at Stewart's Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake, and that really looks daunting! I'm not sure I could have handled that...

Laura said...

I noticed your Bostini last night but was too tired to comment. I love the heart shapr, and especially the chocolate heart on the top. Yum!

Chris said...

Great job on your first challenge! I love the hearts and absolutely agree....Baking 911 is wonderful and has saved me on several occasions.

But - I just gasp at posting the calories....Ignorance is bliss in this case, my friend! :) I will just keep thinking the comma is really a decimal. :)

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

Your presentation is wayyyy too beautiful. I love it!

Megan said...

Thanks for that calorie count. I needed that. Quess I'll see you at south beach=) I heart Bostini and your pans too.

BC said...

Holy cannoli! I completely skipped the nutritional info. Oh well, too late now.

Marce said...

your pictures are amazing, great job!... though I have to say please, please don´t highlight the nutritional info, it´s just not right! haha

Brittany said...

Beautiful Julius! This was my first time around as well. I think we lucked out with a great recipe! I was worried all month it would end up being something like gateau st honre...I don't think I would have had the emotinal strength for that : ) I love the little chocolate drizzle heart you were able to pull off! Your chocolate consistency is perfect.

Kelly-Jane said...

Welcome to the DBs! You've done a fab job on your first challenge =)

Anita said...

Great first challenge! I love how clean and elegant it all looks!

Laura Rebecca said...

Those are some seriously beautiful pictures. Your Bostinis look scrumptious -- congratulations on completing your first challenge!

Laura Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annemarie said...

Even though your custard didn't go as planned, I actually like the look of it running out of your heart-shaped chiffons. Really pretty to look at - congrats on becoming a Daring Baker.

Katie said...

Congratulations on your first challange. They look fantastic. I baked mine in heart shaped moulds too.

Andrea said...

Beautiful cakes! I love the heart shapes, and your photos are wonderful. Congrats on a successful first challenge, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Elisabeth said...

Loved your pictures. You were braver than I cutting your recipe in half. But, we're enjoying every bite.

Congratulations on your first challenge!

Elisabeth

Belinda said...

Wow, Julius...you did an incredible job with your first Daring Baker challenge! The Bostinis look gorgeous, and I LOVE the heart shape...very sassy and fun. Your photos are beautiful...very nicely done. :-)

kitten said...

reading your blog and seeing your photos make me want to make the bostini all over again ! delicious!

Erin said...

That many calories? Oh my goodness! Gorgeous Bostini's!

MrsPresley said...

WOW i cannot believe how many calories are in one of those!!! i guess with that many eggs and cream, it would be hard to avoid the calories! your bostini pie turned out beautifully :) maybe one day, i like you, will muster up the courage to become a daring baker!

marias23 said...

You did such a wonderful job on your first challenge! I love your hearts and thick-looking chocolate sauce. I also love your Martha Stewart's birthday cake! Looks so impressive! :)

breadchick said...

Fantastic job on your first challenge!! Absolutely grand to have you with us and glad you quit lurking!!! Welcome aboard

slush said...

WOW! Now thats a very romantic presentation. Would be perfect for Valentines. Wonderful job!

Mary said...

I like that you did research on the recipe, chiffons and pastry cream. I'm glad you de-lurked and joined us for our monthly baking. Thanks for doing such a great job on your Bostini cream pies. =)

April said...

Great job on completing your first challenge as a DBer! Your Bostini looks amazing!

Inne said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers, Julius and well done on your first challenge. Your heart-shaped bostinis look great.

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your first DBer challenge. Congratulations!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Jen Yu said...

Ahhh, the heart shape cakes and the the little chocolate heart flourish is wonderful! What a great first DB challenge. Yay to my fellow Oct 07 DB classmates :) Awesome job.

jen at use real butter

joey said...

Oh my goodness! Your photos are dangerously luscious! Gosh, the way the custard and the chocolate is oozing out of that chiffon heart makes me want to crack my monitor with a hammer and get at it!

Congratulations on an awesome first challenge! :)

Deborah said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers!! Great job on your first challenge - but I really don't need to know the calories! :)

Madeleine said...

1,170 calories.... oh my God!!! Thanks for the information... hehe! :)

Your bostini hearth shape looks amazing! =9

xoxo

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

It looks really wonderful! I love your amazing presentation and pictures! Congratulations on your first challenge!

Cheers,

Rosa

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

And we are so please you've joined us Julius! You have just the spirit and it looks like from that heart you've got the moves right too!

Paz said...

I love the shape of your Bostini.

Paz

Ivonne said...

Julius,

Congratulations on finally becoming a Daring Baker! You did an amazing job, especially with the chocolate glaze!

Tartelette said...

Beautiful pictures that have totally captured my attention! Congrats on your first completed challenge! Great job!

the pastry princess said...

great post and i love the heart cakes! excellent challenge!

Michelle said...

I love your pictures of the final product...they look super yummy! From another first timer...congrads on completely the first challenge.

Laura said...

It all looks amazing Julius. One challenge down and many more to go.

countrygirlcityliving said...

I can hardly believe this is a first effort...you are a pro! The hearts are adorable and I love how you were able to make the chocolate glaze create a heart within a heart.

Kevin said...

Your Bostini look great with the custard oozing out of the middle and the chocolate dripping down the sides.

jef said...

Nothing wrong with an anglaise style cream with this dessert. I'm sure it still tasted wonderful. It's not bad to look at, either.

Butta Buns said...

Eeeeeeek, those numbers in the nutrional break down is really guilt tripping me now! But you're right, they are toe curlingling good. Your presentation is beautiful, especially the heart on the hearts.

Simona said...

Love the hearts and the photos!

Dolores said...

It's taken me over a week to visit everyone's Bostini's, and in that time I've consumed a few of those taking up space in my own refrigerator.

My personal trainer and I thank you for advising me of the calorie count (though my recipe served closer to 18 than 8).

Congratulations on a successful first challenge Julius... your heart-shaped Bostini capture both the dessert's elegance and it's "comfort food" feel beautifully.

Gabi said...

Truly lovely chocolate work there Julius! What beautiful hearts.
These are definitely a special occasion type dessert or the only good looking heart will be the one on the plate. :)
Good luck on the healthy changes!
xoxo

Chelsea said...

Did you have to include the nutional info? I was feeling pretty good about myself, right up until the 93 grams of fat part. Your Bostinis are spectacular! Congrats on joining the Daring Bakers!

Carrie said...

Beautiful!

Peabody said...

Oh my the caloric content...yikes! Love job on your bostini.

LizG said...

As usual, great photography and post, Julius! Your bostinis look absolutely scrumptious -- as I'm sure they were. Well done!

The Caked Crusader said...

Great photo! Haven't we both done well on our first DB challenge?
I could've done without knowing the calorie content though - hee hee hee