Posted in baking, foam, freezing, infusion, thickening

Daring Baker Challenge: Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

A slice
My guests thought it was just chocolate and vanilla, but you know me better than that.

The recipe is available here.
I’ll be honest, I thought this dessert was going to be too much.  I had to pick flavors for four components, plus have a fudge sauce.  But I tried to pick things that wouldn’t clash, and I think it turned out really well.  The subtleties probably didn’t come through, because you tend to eat it all together, but it tasted good together, and that’s what matters, right?

So, this dessert had five parts.

1. Sponge cake – I tried making it first by whipping the egg yolks and egg whites separately, folding the flour and water into the yolks, folding part of the whites into the yolks, and then adding all of the yolk mixture to the whites.  This worked well and it worked FAST, especially because my eggs were pretty old.  Then I tried it with brand new eggs, whipping whole eggs.  I can’t say whether it was the fact that they were whole or the fact that they were new or both, but they definitely took a lot longer to whip.  Eventually, though, they did, and although I had the impression they didn’t end up as airy as the first batch, the cakes were basically identical in the end.  It is important to grease your parchment paper – something I’ve never had to do before – because this cake will stick to everything, and it’s too thin (thin enough to bake in a jellyroll pan, that’s the kind with short sides) to afford losing a layer to the parchment. Because it’s so thin, it cooks fast.  In my overzealous oven, I consistently cooked them for 8 minutes each.

I flavored my cake by using brown sugar instead of white (actually I kept a little white sugar in there, but I doubt it matters).  When it came out of the oven, it smelled like French toast.  Yummmm.  I substituted cake flour for the cocoa powder in the recipe – all the flour I used was cake flour.

By the way, does anyone know why the recipe says to have the water boiling?  I don’t see why that matters, but I did it just to be safe.

2. Filling – I made whipped cream with brown sugar instead of white, and added some ground cassia/Saigon cinnamon.  I once impatiently put the filling on the cake before letting the cake cool, and the cake soaked it all up.  You really do have to let the cake cool first.  I don’t know how important it is to roll the cake while it’s warm to make it roll without breaking later, but I always did.  I didn’t use a towel, since my kitchen towels are of questionable cleanliness. I never had any trouble with the cake breaking from rolling or unrolling it, but I did have trouble getting the cake to roll tightly enough to be pretty but not so tightly as to squeeze out the filling.  I ended up rolling as best I could, slicing, and then unrolling and rerolling each slice.  Messy, annoying, but got the job done.  I think the trick, if there is one, has to do with getting an even layer of the filling on the cake.  Mine seemed to have more towards the middle, which made my outer slices badly shaped.

The slices of the resulting Swiss roll were pressed into a bowl (which was covered in plastic wrap) to line the sides, and this was put in the freezer.

Cake and Ice Cream #1
About halfway there.

3. Ice Cream #1 – I made Mexican Hot Chocolate ice cream, loosely based on David Lebovitz’s Aztec Hot Chocolate recipe from The Perfect Scoop.  I believe in making dairy-based ice creams with light cream, around 18% fat (I calculated that this makes an ice cream with the same fat, solid, and water content as a formula I found for premium ice cream), so I did that, and the recipe went like this:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

3 cups light cream

5 Tbsp cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar

2 oz chile flavored chocolate, chocolate

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

1 Tbsp cognac

1 small dried red chile pepper, chopped and with seeds removed (I got this from my farmshare and don’t know what it should be called, but it is HOT)

Heat cream, sugar, pepper, and cocoa powder until boiling.  Remove from heat and add everything else.  Strain.  Chill.  Churn.  Freeze.

I didn’t know if it would be too hot or not hot enough, but I think it turned out just right if you like it mild.  You could tell something interesting was going on, but it wasn’t at all bothersome.  People who like spicy food would want more heat, though.  I think having it cold and with all that dairy definitely tones it down – I got more spice out of it when I tasted it pre-churning.I thought it was delicious.  In any case, I think it’s one of my new favorite flavors.

Out of the bowl
If I were more into crafty baking, I would totally make one of these to look like a turtle.

4. Ice Cream #2 – I chose hazelnut for this one.  I bought some hazelnuts, skinned them – I found out through on OChef that boiling them in a quart of water with 4 Tbsp of baking powder for about 3 minutes makes this really easy, I was so thankful – baked them at about 200F for about 10 minutes or 15 minutes, and then tried to grind them into butter.  That failed, so I infused my light cream (actually, this time I used half heavy cream and half whole milk, which is approximately the same) with the ground hazelnuts (and sugar) and then strained it.  This time, since I wasn’t adding alcohol, which makes ice cream softer, I added gelatin, which also keeps ice cream from freezing too solid, though in its own, gelatiny way.  In the past I’ve used a whole packet of gelatin for this much ice cream, and half a packet for 2/3 this much ice cream, and both times thought it was a little much.  So I tried half a packet, but I forgot to bloom it in some of the liquid kept cold, so I just stirred it into the hot liquid, and I don’t know if that keeps it from working, but it didn’t seem to have any effect.  The texture of the ice cream was great, but gelatin keeps ice cream from melting into a puddle and this ice cream melted like crazy, so I’m skeptical that it was really doing its job. I also used a little more sugar because my lower-gelatin batch before seemed not quite soft enough and perhaps not quite sweet enough.  I looked at Lebovitz’s Gianduja Gelato recipe to see about infusing the cream with the nuts, but other than that this is my own recipe.  If I can figure out how to make hazelnut butter I’ll have an even more original one for you – I’ve done the math to match that premium ice cream formula again, but alas, my grinders just aren’t cooperating.

Hazelnut Ice Cream

3 cups light cream

7/8 cup sugar (that’s 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp)

150 g ground hazelnuts

1 pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 envelope of gelatin (about 4g)

Bloom gelatin in some of the cream.  Heat the rest of the cream, sugar, salt, and hazelnuts.  Remove from heat and add gelatin and vanilla, whisking well.  Strain.  Chill.  Churn.  Freeze.

These ice creams were poured into the bowl on top of the frozen Swiss rolls.  I let the first freeze before churning and adding the second.

Complete
At first I was just drizzling the sauce on top, but then I said what the hell.

5. Fudge Sauce – I cheated.  I’m sorry.  Please let me stay in the club.  I was supposed to put the fudge sauce in between the layers of ice cream, but I’m sorry, that is not the purpose of fudge sauce.  Fudge sauce it to be added hot on top of cold ice cream.  So that’s what I did.  I poured it on top of the whole ice cream cake.

I also wasn’t very excited about a fudge sauce based on water thickened with cornstarch.  I found a recipe on Allrecipes that was simply sweetened condensed milk and unsweetened chocolate, with a little salt and vanilla.  (It also had water, but I omitted that – I wanted it nice and thick.)  That sounded more like it me, so that’s what I made.  It was thoroughly enjoyed.

Posted in infusion

Allorello e mentella (Laurel and mint liqueurs)

Bay laurel leaves infusing in vodka.
Bay laurel leaves infusing in vodka.
A small-leaved mint I picked from the farm I bought a share in.
The mint is already turning the vodka green on day 2.

I tried two more liqueurs: one made with bay laurel leaves and one made with some sort of mint that I picked at my farm share.  The leaves were really small and didn’t look exactly like mint, but they sure smelled like it, and I figured they wouldn’t grow anything poisonous in their pick-your-own herb garden, so in the vodka they went!

The laurel liqueur came out lighter in color than it has when I’ve made it before (in 95% alcohol), and it tastes smokier or spicier or something, which I’m not crazy about.  It’s supposed to be refreshing. I might try adding more syrup to it. The mint is pretty good, but I think I’d like it better mixed with more flavor.  Vanilla is an option.  I have half a mind to make a lime liqueur and mix it with the mint – can you tell I like mojitos?

So this time, I used 200 mL of water and 200 mL of granulated sugar per bottle of vodka. That’s equal parts by volume – a traditional simple syrup.  Since I split the bottle between the two types of leaves, I split that syrup between the two.  I put the syrup in the bottle first so I could split it evenly, so when I poured in the alcohol it sat on top and looked really cool until I shook the bottles.  I think this recipe is pretty good, but I haven’t given them a very good try yet, so don’t hold me to that.  I have a feeling I’ll need to adjust the sugar content again to find a happy medium.

Posted in infusion

Limoncello

The lemon zest turns it yellow.
The lemon zest turns it yellow.

I have a limoncellario, or limoncello recipe, from a real live Italian mom.  And I can’t use it in this state, which has banned grain alcohol.  So I had to do my best to adapt the recipe to 80 proof (40% abv) vodka.  I never thought I would say this, but vodka is wimpy.  But, it’s still good limoncello.  I think I used a little too much sugar, which is funny because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to dissolve enough sugar in the small amount of water I was adding (when you use 95% abv you can add a lot more water).  I think that by increasing the ratio of sugar to water to 2:1 by volume, I created an invert sugar despite not adding acid or boiling for the syrup for very long.  Invert sugar is sweeter than regular sugar, so that threw off my proportions.  And it seems to be true that the vodka can’t extract quite as much of the lemony goodness as grain alcohol can.  But again, any limoncello is good limoncello.  Here’s the recipe I used this time (which I put in baker’s percentage based on the vodka, even though this is not at all a baked good):

100.0 B%    690.0 g    750 mL vodka (1 bottle)
29.0 B%      200.0 g    200 mL water (your measuring cup probably has mL on it; if not, convert here)
47.0 B%      324.0 g    400 mL sugar

zest of 8-10 lemons

Put the lemon zests in the vodka for a week to a month.  Put the sugar in the water and bring to a boil, then cool.  Strain the vodka and mix it with the simple syrup (that’s what you call the sugar-water thing you just made).  Pour into bottles.  Refrigerate.

Naturally, if you zest 8 lemons, you will be left with 8 naked lemons.  I assume naked lemons don’t last that long.  So I juiced all of mine and put the juice in my Not Actually Ice cube trays.  Now whenever I have a recipe that calls for lemon juice, I don’t have to wait until my next grocery trip to make it.

Incidentally, it is unbelievably difficult to find a decent funnel in this town.  Or the next town over, for that matter.  After exhausting the usual big chains, I went to a little cooking supply store, where I had a goldilocks problem.  The canning funnels are too big and the spice funnels are too small.  I could buy both and put them together, but that would cost about $25, which is about ten times what I think a funnel should cost.  Then I found a wine funnel, with a curved tip and a strainer inside, and that was $30.  I guess they figure people who do things with wine will pay anything.  So I made do with a measuring cup and the pour-y part of my saucepan.  But really.  Dear Town, please import some funnels.

Finally, having freed up my infusion vessel, I put a new bottle of vodka in with my squeezed-out key limes.  We’ll see what that tastes like in a couple of weeks.

Later notes: Never put the pith (white part) of citrus in an infusion.  My key lime liqueur came out way too bitter.  I’m very sad.  However, I used 200 mL of sugar with the same general recipe in another batch of liqueur, and I think it’s a better balance.  I’ll use it in my next limoncello.