Daring Bakers November Challenge – Sans Rival Cake

This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge and I will definitely be back for more.  Not only has it opened my eyes to a whole new cultural cuisine, but also introduced me to new baking techniques and skills.    Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake!  This is made up of crunchy layers of dacquoise (meringue with crushed nuts- traditionally cashews), sandwiched together with layers of smooth French butter cream.

It tastes as good as it sounds, really delicious!  Super rich and sweet as you can imagine from the ingredients list, so a small piece does the job, but  it had great flavour and textures.  I made a chocolate butter cream for the outside and vanilla for the filling, with a chocolate meringue with almond meal as that was the easiest to find!  I think in the future I would grind the nuts myself, leaving bigger pieces, as I think even more crunch and texture would be better.

I was really impressed with the French butter cream, having only ever made it the quick icing sugar and butter blend it all up way.  The French version, with  sugar syrup, did take a lot longer and was more labour intensive, but the finished product was far superior with a richer and creamier taste, and smoother texture.  I’ll definitely be using it as my staple butter cream if I have a bit of time in the future! I did run out of butter cream in this recipe and had to make a second half quantity, so I recommend doing this from the start as it’s quite time consuming.

Making meringue was  a bit of a gamble, as my oven is far from reliable and doesn’t actually seem to cook from the top.  However, as the oven also doesn’t seem to ever get really hot it was actually quite good for meringue, although it still took two hours to get crispy layers.  As presentation is never my strong point, I coated the sides with white and dark chocolate shards to hide uneven edges!

A Filipino friend said it tasted as it was meant to, so I was pretty satisfied.  I am also inspired to try more Filipino food, as I’ve never really investigated or tried to cook it before.  If it’s all as good as this cake, I think I’ll be cooking a lot in the future!

Sans Rival:
Serves 12-20 (depends how much you can eat, It’s pretty rich!!)

10 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon  cream of tartar ( I didn’t have this so substituted 1 tsp white wine vinegar)
¼ cup  cocoa (optional and not traditional)
1 cup chopped, toasted almonds coarsely chopped (for topping)

1 cup almond meal or finely crushed almonds.


1. Preheat oven to moderate 160°C
2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides  well, it sticks!.
3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy (2 mins.). Sprinkle with cream of tartar or vinegar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)

4. Fold in finely crushed  nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.

5.Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.

7. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.

French Buttercream: ( quantities are for 1 1/2 times original recipe to give plenty to cover and fill cake)

8 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
3/4cup water
2 cup  unsalted butter, room temperature

50g dark chocolate melted to flavour

1 tsp vanilla essence to flavour

1. Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
2. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 112°C (or thread stage).
3. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful!

4.Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins).

5. Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.

6. Divide in half and add melted chocolate to one half and vanilla essence to the other half.

7.  Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides. Decorate with coarse nuts and chocolate shards if you’re a little untidy!

Refrigerate until ready to serve, as this makes it much easier to cut.  May freeze.


Simple Milk Loaf

Well I have shown you the kneading method I use and now here is one of my favourite bread recipes that incorporates the technique. The recipe is from Dan Lepard’s great book “The Handmade Loaf” which has some fantastic recipes for international breads, but is not ideal for anyone short on free time.  It’s a book for the commited breadmaker, dabblers should look elsewhere.

This is a pretty simple recipe and really great for toast and sarnies. It makes me want to pay the highly inflated (in Spain), price for a jar of Marmite or branston pickle or both!!

Simple Milk Loaf

1 ½ tsp of fresh yeast crumbled (or 1 tsp dried yeast)

350g whole milk at room temperature

20g golden, maple syrup or honey

250g plain white flour

250g strong white flour

1 ½ tsp salt

25g warm melted butter

  1. In a large bowl whisk the milk with the yeast and syrup. Add the flours and salt and combine all togeather so you have soft sticky dough. Pour over melted butter and squidge it in. Cover the bowl and leave for 10 mins.
  2. Rub 1 tsp of sunflower or veg oil on your hands and workbench and knead for 10 seconds (see video) clean the bowl and grease with a little more oil. Return the dough and cover 10 mins.
  3. Oil hands and workbench, Knead  the dough 10 seconds put back in bowl and cover for 10mins.
  4. Oil hands and workbench, Knead  the dough 10 seconds put back in bowl and cover for 10mins.
  5. Oil hands and workbench, Knead  the dough 10 seconds put back in bowl and cover .
  6. Leave for 30 minutes covered.
  7. Grease and flour a deep loaf tin 12x19cm. divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Drop them side by side into the prepared tin. Cover with cloth and leave to rise for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 210c. brush the top of the loaf with milk and bake for 15mins, then lower the heat to 180c and bake for another 25-30 mins. Or until top of loaf is shiny and brown and the loaf has come away from the sides of the tin.
  9. Remove from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. (important to leave it to cool before eating or cutting as the loaf is still cooking and although the temptation is to try a slice there and then resist. )

Here is a summary I find useful when making these types of loaves as I often lose myself a little in recipe

  1. Mix.
  2. leave for 10mins,then knead 10 secs, cover x 4
  3. Knead,Leave 30mins, covered.
  4. Shape, put in tin (2balls)
  5. Leave 1 ½ hrs.
  6. Put in oven 210c 15mins then 180c for 25-30 mins.
  7. Cool, scoff!

When you have made the bread post a picture. happy baking!!!

Tuna Mornay with Chip Topping

One of the dishes I remember my mum making when I was growing up was Tuna Mornay with chips (crisps) on top.  I remember the topping was lovely and crunchy and as the weather has become slightly more wintery recently, I was in the mood for a nice winter comfort food.  I have never made Tuna Mornay before, but after a quick internet search I had a rough idea of what should be in the recipe and decided to give it a crack with what I had in the cupboard.

slightly overbrowned!

The result was a tasty, cheesy winter warmer, rather like a jazzed up macaroni and cheese!  It also  contained enough veggies to make it seem moderately healthy. The chips added a lovely crispy crust and contrasted well with the creamy tuna.

I think this recipe would work well with a variety of vegetables and it’s particularly  good if you only have frozen veggies in.  I used carrots, frozen peas, and tinned corn, but I think spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin or zucchini might also work nicely.  The recipe freezes well and also reheats well the next day in the oven (better!) or microwave , although to avoid soggy chips I would add some fresh chips when reheating to maintain the crispness.

Tuna Mornay with Chip Topping

500g of tinned tuna in oil/water well drained

1 small tin corn kernels

2 carrots diced into small squares

3/4 cup frozen peas

4 eggs

2 Tbsp plain flour

3 Tbsp butter

500ml milk

3/4 cup cheddar cheese (grated)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

1 bag plain potato chips (crisps)

1 1/2 cups cooked pasta such as macaroni or penne

salt and pepper to season

1.  Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente

2.  Boil eggs for about 10 minutes or until hard boiled.

3.  Cook diced carrots in a little water in a saucepan until soft, drain and set aside.

4.  Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan and add flour stirring well to combine.

5.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuosly

6.  Add milk little by little, whisking well all the time.

7.  Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, about 7 minutes, whisking continuously to prevent lumps.

8.  Remove from heat and add grated cheddar cheese.

9.  Place drained tuna, cooked pasta, carrots, corn, peas, chopped eggs and cheese sauce into an oven proof dish and mix well to combine.

10.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and top with crushed chips.

11.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes until top is slightly browned (if browning too fast cover with tin foil).

The perfect winter comfort food!



Friday Night Quick Tempura in the Kitchen

Forget Friday night pizza or fish and chips, go Japanese and try some homemade Tempura in the Kitchen with a bottle of wine to chill out after the long working week!

Tempura is easy and quick to make, and tastes best when eaten straight from the pan and hasn’t had time to go soggy and lose its crisp shell. You can tempura just about anything too, from the more traditional veggies and prawns to bananas and bacon (our latest tempura test).

The key to good tempura is to make sure the oil is hot enough. This stops the food from absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy. Make sure you drain it on a paper towel after too, removing any excess oil.

Just about any vegetable that is fairly hard and holds its shape works well with a crispy tempura batter, so try eggplant, sweet potato, pumpkin, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, onion, capsicum, or any other that takes your fancy. Prawns are the traditional protein found on tempura platters of Japanese restaurants but experiment with different things, (fish and seafood works particularly well) and see what works for you! We served ours with a sweet chilli coriander and lemon dressing.

We tried bacon pieces and banana on our last Friday night tempura fest, with surprisingly successful results. The bacon turned out super crispy and full of flavour and would be really nice scattered over a soup or in a salad for a bit of crunch. We fried pieces of banana and served them in a bed of melted chocolate for dessert, which was reminiscent of Pisang Goreng (Indonesian fried banana) and also went down a treat!

So hit the kitchen this Friday, crack open your favourite drop and chew over the weeks events with hot from the pot crispy tempura!

Here’s Breadheads easy Tempura batter recipe

125g plain flour
30g corn flour
1/2 tsp salt
300ml soda water / 125ml soda water and 125ml beer
black pepper to season

1. Mix ingredients together and whisk roughly till it just comes togeather don’t worry if there are a couple of lumps.
2. Heat 1 1/2 cups vegetable/ sun flower oil until very hot in a pan on high heat.
3. Dunk veggies/ other stuff in batter and coat well.
4. Drop into oil and fry until crispy and slightly browned. (If they start to cook too fast and batter is crispy before inside is cooked, remove or lower heat for a while to cool oil slightly)
5. Drain on paper towel and eat as soon as possible with a dipping sauce.

Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
squeeze of lemon juice
small handfull fresh coriander finely chopped

Mix and dunk.

Homemade fast food!

Foolproof Bread Kneading Technique

Here Breadhead demonstrates the foolproof bread kneading technique that guarantees your bread rises well and has a perfect texture (well provided you do everything else right too, bread’s a contrary food with many opportunities to mess it up!) .  However, if you follow this technique at least your kneading won’t be the problem! (pajamas optional, but obviously there’s nothing like a good Sunday morning PJ knead to get rid of the cobwebs!).

Coconut Swiss Roll with Chocolate coconut mousse filling and white chocolate cream cheese icing. (As used in Surf’s Up cake)

Well this was my first attempt at a Swiss roll and I’m quite happy with the result, although I would probably skip the white chocolate icing on top in the future.  The whole thing was just a bit too sweet!

The cake cracked slightly on rolling, but I put this down to the fact that I made it a week in advance and froze it.  The sponge had a nice flexible texture before freezing and I think it would have rolled well then!  The taste was unspoilt by a week in the freezer, but the texture was slightly more brittle.

I adapted the roll recipe from one I found on this blog The Pleasure Monger

And then created the filling and icing myself.  I think the icing could replace the filling if you prefer the white chocolate and coconut combo, but both together will have you bouncing off the walls for hours!  See Surf’s Up cake.

Coconut Swiss Roll RecipeCoconut (halved)

1 egg
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
35g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
10g corn flour
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 egg whites
85 caster sugar
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 12 inch by 9 inch cake pan with baking paper.
2. Combine 1 egg, 3 egg yolks,  and vanilla  in a small bowl and lightly beat. Set this mixture aside.
3. Heat butter in a small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted. Add sifted flour to melted butter and cook till you get a dough that comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove this dough to a bowl, and add the egg mixture from Step 2 in small amounts. Gradually mix the dough and egg mixture into a smooth batter with each addition. Add coconut milk and dessicated coconut  to the batter and mix well.
4. In a clean bowl, whip up egg whites till foamy. Add half of the sugar and beat for a few minutes, then add the remaining sugar and beat till stiff and glossy peaks are formed.
5. Gently fold one-third of this meringue mixture into the batter. Fold in the remaining meringue until just mixed in.

6.Pour this batter into the cake pan and smooth the surface out with a scraper. Bake the sponge for 18 minutes.

7. Remove the tray from the oven, loosely cover the cake with a piece of aluminium foil to retain moisture and prevent cracking, place it on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheese Mousse Filling:

250g cream cheese

50g dark chocolate

1 cup dessicated coconut

Raw white chocolate

3/4 cup icing sugar

1.  Melt chocolate over stove on in microwave.

2.  Mix other ingredients into the chocolate and whisk with an electric beater until light and fluffy.

3.  Spread a generous amount of mousse in the centre of your roll cake, leaving spaces at the edges.

4.  Gently roll cake and wipe any excess filling that squirts out the ends.

5.  If you want a professional looking cake cut each end off to produce a smooth finish.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing (optional filling or to go on top if you have a massive sweet tooth!)

250g cream cheese

60g butter

2 1/2 cups icing sugar

150g white chocolate

1.  Melt white chocolate in microwave or over stove (watch it carefully, it burns very quickly if you turn your back!)

2.  Whisk cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until fluffy and then add melted chocolate and icing sugar.  (icing will be runny, but will thicken as chocolate cools!)

Surf’s Up Sugar Rush Cake

This is a quick piccie of the cake I made for Breadheads birthday.  I was going for the surfing theme (obviously) and while the result was not too bad (if a long way from professional), the cake itself was a little sweet.  Diabetes inducing sweet in fact.  The combination of a caramel apple cake with butterscotch icing and a coconut swiss roll filled with chocolate cream cheese mousse and topped with a white chocolate coconut cream cheese icing almost finished us off!

Recipes to follow, but i’d recommend one of these cakes at a time and maybe a less sweet base cake if using the icings!

Always remember to check your spelling when icing a cake as even simple words such as 'birthday' can be troublesome!

Meatball Pasta with Spinach, Goats Cheese and Tomato.

Meatball pasta with oozing goats cheese

Meatball pasta with oozing goats cheese

This is a breahead leftover creation, which threatened to be tastier than the original dish!  The meatballs were made using the leftover homemade burgers (see Burgers for your buns) from the freezer, and were added to linguine pasta with a tangy homemade tomato sauce, creamy goats’ cheese and wilted spinach. The result; a delicious rich pasta dish which at the same time is light and fresh tasting.

Meatball Pasta Recipe

1/2 quantity of burger recipe or leftover uncooked burgers

1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp smoky paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 glass red wine

1 clove garlic-chopped

2 tsp herbs de provence

1 tsp dried oregano

400g whole tinned tomatoes

150g soft goats cheese

couple of large handfuls of fresh spinach

Parmesan for grating

100-150g pasta of choice per portion

1.  Roll burgers into meatballs of about 4cm diameter (alternatively use burger recipe and just shape into meatballs instead of burgers)

2.  Heat a little oil in frying pan and seal meatballs giving them a good brown colour.

3.  Remove meatballs and set aside.

4.  In the same pan, add chopped garlic and cook for 30 seconds over medium heat until it dances but doesn’t burn.

5.  Add wine to pan and reduce to 2/3 original volume.

6.  Put tomatoes in a sieve and squish between fingers, then add to wine.

7.  Reduce slightly then add herbs, spices, vinegar and sugar and boil for 5 minutes.

8.  Put meatballs into sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes over a gentle heat.

9.  Check seasoning of sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

10.  Add spinach to sauce and wilt, keep warm over low heat.

11.  Bring pasta to boil and cook until al dente in salted water.

12.  Drain cooked pasta and add to tomato sauce along with goats cheese crumbled or in cubes.

13.  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of Parmesan.