Sunday, December 26, 2010

Birthday Cheeseburger

What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a Hamburger right? That's what I did for My friend Brian on his birthday.. except the burger is actually a cake. Red Velvet cake with a chocolate cake layer in the center to mimic the meat. It was a lot of fun to do and really easy.
Lots of people have done it.. check out this web site for other interpretations.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas!!!
So now that we are desserted out and ready to get back into shape, I thought I'd share with you some of the delicious treats from my christmas..
Dessert this year was the famous Carrot Cake. After so much eating out and fancy desserts, I decided to go for something simple.. well.. the cake at least..the decoration was another.. so a Carrot Cake Christmas Stocking was my project!
Stuffed with toys and all!

I had to share this one, as we were enjoying Christmas my kitten Penny slept
Cross section of the cake

And a portuguese tradition is to eat a Bolo Rei on Christmas.
Bolo rei (English: literally King Cake) is a traditional Portuguese cake, which is usually eaten around Christmas, from December 25 until the Dia dos Reis (literally Day of Kings, a reference to the three kings) on January 6. The cake itself is round with a large hole in the centre, resembling a crown covered with crystallized and dried fruit.
The bolo rei is baked from a soft, white dough, with raisins, various nuts, and crystallized fruit. Also included is the characteristic "fava", and tradition dictates that whoever finds the fava has to pay for the bolo rei next year. Initially, a small prize was also included within the cake. However, the inclusion of the prize (usually a small metal toy) was forbidden by the European Union, citing safety reasons.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Daring Baker's December Challenge: Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a German sweet breat traditionally eaten at Christmas. It's supposed to 'mature' over 3 months in order to fully develop its flavor. We aren't 3 months away from Christmas yet but maybe my Stollen can be a Thanksgiving one? You don't really need an excuse to eat this delicious sweet bread. My favorite is actually prepared by my mother, the founder and Chef of The Flavor Lab in Japan. She uses a mixed fruit almond paste in the center which rivals traditional German Recipes. Every Christmas she will ship us a Stollen or two around Christmas, and being my husband's favorite Christmas sweet, it dissapears before Christmas Eve.
It's a little intimidating to make, but practice makes perfect!

Stollen is a bread-like fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually with zest added to the dough. Candied orange peel and candied citrus is often also added.
Over the centuries, the cake changed from being a simple, fairly tasteless "bread" to a sweeter cake with richer ingredients. The Advent season was a time of fasting, and bakers were not allowed to use butter, only oil, and the cake was tasteless and hard.

I start out making a sponge and letting it rest for 30 minutes or so. It helps the dough get some flavor and leavening before the fat and the sugar, which are tenderizers, destroy those beautiful gluten strands formed by the wheat protein.

After that resting period the rest of the flour is incorporated with the butter and the sponge.

The candied fruits are then mixed in and the dough can be shapped into logs
The log goes into the oven untill it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom (depends on thickness) and comes out a beautiful tan color.

While still hot, you want to brush melted butter over it and coat it with powdered sugar. The powdered sugar and butter coating are what help this bread last three months without spoiling. It adds moisture and forms a barrier that doesn't allow the bread to dry out.

Here is mine cut open!

Here is the Full Recipe for the Challenge


¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.
Daring Baker's  Stollen
To make the dough
Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.
Shaping the Dough and Baking
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
Daring Baker's  Stollen
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Daring Baker's  Stollen
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
Daring Baker's  Stollen
Daring Baker's  Stollen
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Daring Baker's  Stollen
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!
When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Norwood Club

So as previously mentioned, I am now the Pastry Chef at the Norwood Club in NYC. It's a private club for artists, and I have the privilege of working with the greatest team anyone could ask for. Full of friendly people and amazing food of course. Earlier this week I decided to try a tasting from the currently updated menu (all of my desserts included of course!)
So here is my adventure and what you would taste if you decide to dine there.

Oysters with champagne gelee. I am typically not a fan of oysters but I could eat a dozen of these!

Lobster Salad. I see them being cooked every day and was thrilled to finally sink my teeth into them.

Parsnip soup with lemongrass.


Beet Salad with blue cheese!

Spetzle with bolognese sauce!

Cauliflower.. the best I've ever had!

Cream of mushroom soup... can I jsut say WOW!


Lobster Risotto with clementines and clementine foam.

Fluke with truffled potatoes and mushrooms. The best dish!

Duck with figs.. Tasty!!

Pork cooked in the most unusual interesting way.. ask the chef!


Chocolate- Caramel mousses on hazelnut Financier with frangelico caramel sauce and vanilla oil caramelized hazelnuts.

Flourless chocolate torte with ricotta-fraiche ice cream, raspberries and dehydrated meringue. The entire dish just falls apart in your mouth!

Cinnamon- Vanilla Apple Tart with strawberry sauce, fresh strawberries and lavender wire.

Spiced Pumpkin Mousse with cinnamon ice cream, snapple sauce, cinnamon streusel and pumpkin chips.

Quite a meal isn't it? But tasty and worth it!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town

In the Festive spirit of Christmas I made Santa Claus Cupcakes to give away. They are angel food cake with chocolate frosting and a long 6 hours worth of work on top of them. I calculated it took me 12 minutes per individual cupcake!! Yikes!! I don't think I'll be making that many again so soon- but then again, Christmas is only once a year so I won't have to :)
My kitten got first dibs.. she loved the chocolate frosting!

Angel Food Cake Recipe

12 fl oz egg whites
12 oz sugar
1T lemon juice
1 tsp salt
4.5 oz flour

1. Whip the whites to soft peaks with the lemon juice and salt.
2. Add the sugar gradually and continue to whip to medium peaks
3. Sift flour in and fold at the speed that you are pouring in the flour. (you can add any powdered flavorings here, I added ginger)
4. Bake at 350 until firm when pressed down.
5. Cool upside down with a cup or bottle holding it up in the air (we don't want the steam to get back into the cake or it will deflate.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Almost Christmas- Buche de Noel

Christmas is my favorite Holiday. It's a time when families come together and share special traditions, one of the most common aspects of family traditions is that it involves the kitchen. Baking cookies, breads, desserts, turkey, pies, anything that is edible.. Many households have specific meal traditions too, I for example eat codfish on Christmas Eve. We've been doing that since I was little and I still continue to do it every year. With the recent economic crisis we find more and more people making their own gifts to give to friends and family, and many of these gifts are coming straight out of their kitchen. I like giving food items because the person can enjoy them, finish them, and not have to worry about finding a place to store that thingamabob that so and so gave them. Cookies are a great idea, especially when you place them in pretty decorative bags that cost you only 10 cents each. I like to do something a little more special, I'll bake either a cake or a Christmas Stollen. This Buche de Noel for example.. It requires about 3 hours of your time, but it looks beautiful as a gift! I was inspired by Chef Diminique Ansel's (Executive Pastry Chef at Daniel) recipe for Buche de Noel in Food & Wine's December Issue.

I wanted more to have a more rustic look and worn wood so I used a completely different filling and coating, but here is the recipe I used.

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate
4 oz cream cheese
Boil the cream and then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute then whisk gently to emulsify chocolate and cream together.
Allow ganache to cool to room temperature.
When ganache is cooled, beat the cream cheese until soft, then add the ganache (gradually) and beat until incorporated.


  1. 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  4. 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg yolks with 6 tablespoons of the sugar at high speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, and leaves a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted, 3 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk. Add the egg whites and salt to the bowl and beat at moderately high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, stir one-fourth of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Working in 2 batches, sift the cocoa over the batter and fold gently until fully incorporated. Spread the batter on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cake feels springy and dry; rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Make the Syrup
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
3 Tablespoons boiling water
1. Dissolve the preserves in the boiling water by whisking vigorously until the preserves break down and form a thick liquid.
1. Brush the syrup onto the chocolate sponge.
2. Spread the filling in a thin layer on the cake.

3. Roll the cake into a log.

4. Cut off the two ends at an angle, making one slightly larger than the other.
5. Place the smaller end on top of the log and the longer end on the side.

6. Cover the log with frosting (I used a Chocolate Buttercream Frosting instead of the filling frosting), then using a fork make wood print lines.

7. Top with fondant decorations (if desired) and...
...Sprinkle with 'snow'

And Merry Christmas!!

 Now for a little History on the Buche de Noel... it litteraly means "Christmas log," referring to the traditional Yule log burned centuries past. The ingedients suggest the cake is most likely a 19th century creation. That's when thinly rolled sponge cakes filled with jam or cream and covered with buttercream icing begin to show up in European cook books. Marzipan and meringue, typically employed for decorative purposes, date to the Medieval Ages and the 17th century respectively.
"Christmas Yule Log. A log-shaped cake traditionally prepared for the Christmas festivities. It is usually made of rectangular slices of Genoese sponge, spread with butter cream and placed one on top of the other, and them shaped into a log; it is coated with chocolate butter cream, applied with a piping bag to simulate bark. The cake is decorated with holly leaves made from almond paste, meringue mushrooms and small figures.
There are also ice cream logs, some made entirely of different flavoured ice creams and some with the inside made of parfait or a bombe mixture. This cake is a fairly recent creation (after 1870) of the Parisian pastrycooks, inspired by the real logs which used to be burned in the hearth throughout Christmas Eve. Before then, the cakes of the season were generally brioches or fruit loaves."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Revised and Updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 299)
"Genoise sponge. A light sponge cake that takes its name from the city of Genoa. Genoise sponge is made of eggs and sugar whisked over heat until thick, then cooled and combined with flour and melted butter. It can be enriched with ground almonds or crystallized (candied) fruits and flavoured with liqueur, the rind (zest) of citrus fruits or vanilla. Genoa sponge...differs from ordinary sponge cake in that the eggs are beaten whole, whereas in the latter the yolks and whites are usually beaten separately. Genoise sponge is the basis of many filled cakes."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Revised and Updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 550)
"[In France] where the buche de Noel, a roll of light sponge cake, is covered in chocolate or coffee buttercream textured to resemble bark. The conceit is carried further by mounding the cream over small pieces of cake stuck to the main roll, to represent trimmed branches. The ends of the roll and the cut faces of the branches are finished with vanilla cream, imitating pale newly cut wood, and the whole is decorated with leaves made from icing, or meringue mushrooms."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 184)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Emily Mori - Patisserie in Japan

Have you heard of Emily Mori? If you live in the USA most likely not, but if you live in Japan, you will soon be able to eat her delicious treats as her Patisserie will open up in the next couple of months. I had the pleasure of eating some of her handmade treats recently and they are d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. Very unconventional for american ways. The box they came in was impeccable, not just any paper box, and the packaging was perfect..just like the japanese ways.
My favorite was the sesame cookie. Quite a destinct flavor. It had a delightful crunch to it.
Emily studied pastry in Japan and spent some time in France perfecting her art. Although she  already takes online orders, she has us quite excited about the opening of her shop.

The delicious sesame seed cookie!

Here is some of her work