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Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Baked Alaska



Baked Alaska? I have seen it featured in many different cooking books and magazines. And every single time I looked at the pictures I always told myself that I would love to bake this. However it never happened since somehow I always caught the impression that it was complicated, leave alone the raw meringue coating was another reason for hesitation.



Having mentioned that, this challenge is definitely a trigger to finally bring it to reality. I’d like to experience baking and freezing this cold cake, and finally face my fear of raw meringue.



And for this challenge, I was ready to take the distance of preparing various flavors for ice cream. I had imagined having the ice cream layer of vivid colors - either pink, purple, and red. Especially red! Therefore, I changed vanilla ice cream into lychee cranberry sorbet for pink, blueberry yoghurt ice cream for purple, and strawberry sorbet for red. Before taking any step into my kitchen, I visualized taking colorful and interesting pictures. The thought itself was so delightful... For that reason, I wished that this cake would be a success story.



And thanks to Elissa for bringing up this wonderful challenge. Totally enjoyable and delicious! The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.



Please check out more details about the challenge and recipe here and don't forget to view other Daring Bakers' takes on this challenge!

BAKED ALASKA



1. Vanilla Ice Cream (or you can go with other flavors)

Ingredients:
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract



Method:
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine.



2. Brown Butter Pound Cake

Ingredients:
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.



3. Meringue

Ingredients:
8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar

Method:
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.



4. Assembly Instructions

Method:
1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.
2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.
3. Make the meringue (see above.)
4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.
5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.
6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

42 comments:

  1. Your work amazes me each and every time. Both the Alaska and the shots are just gorgeous! Bravo!

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  2. Your Baked Alaska are magnificent! I love that ice cream flavor. Great shots too.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I love the idea of using sorbet - bravo! Both these and the petit fours look fantastic.

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  4. Kris,
    Your baked alaska is perfect! Excellent job as usual! I am drooling over the ice cream colors, they are sooooo pretty!

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  5. Your baked Alaska is beautiful! I was hesitant to use raw meringue as well, so I frosted it with a frosting instead!

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  6. Looks gorgeous, of course! I have a problem with raw meringue so I covered mine with chocolate ganache. :)

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  7. Can't stop looking at your photos! How can you make it so perfectly? It's amazing!!

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  8. Very impressive. Well done ;0)

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  9. Kris, I love your Alaska.. gorgeous styling!! I really like the wire stands.. very vintage and lovely!

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  10. wooow.. very tasteful cake. My favorite picture is picture with yellow background and blue botle.. the are so pretty and macth perfectly.

    and also, i love the wooden background too. :)

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  11. Wow - you certainly succeeded in presenting beautiful and interesting pictures, and your desserts look absolutely fantastic. Awesome job with the challenge, presentation and post!

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  12. Funny I'd never thought of meringue as raw before. Your flavors sound scrumptious and of course, look beautiful.

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  13. oh my!this is so gorgeous...your are brilliant!Love the photos

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  14. I am so impressed! What gorgeous Baked Alaskas and beautiful photographs! You made an incredible selection of ice cream/sorbet, too!

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  15. c'est tellement gourmand qu'il m'est impossible d'y résister!!!
    bonne soirée

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  16. Beautiful pictures, wonderful colour combinations and a perfectly executed challenge.

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  17. Your photography is amazing. Love it! The flavors you incorporated into your Baked Alaska sound absolutely delicious as well. Great work on the challenge!

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  18. GORGEOUS edible art!!!

    My oven died during the baking of the cake:(

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  19. Simply stunning photography! I am always awe struck by your talents!
    I made the Italian meringue because I felt the same way about the raw meringue. Still a bit icky, though!

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  20. I love your ice cream combinations--so different and super intriguing!

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  21. Absolutely beautiful baked alaskas! I love your colourful presentation and how perfect everything looked! Great job!

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  22. Beautiful pictures. I love the ice cream flavors too. You are so talented. I love reading your blog. :)

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  23. Gorgeous photos! Beautiful presentation and I love the flavors!

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  24. oh wow, this looks incredible! i just finished the petit fours myself and i think you were much more successful with this particular challenge. :) thanks for sharing it!

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  25. Kris, these are gorgeous little beauties. Love that you had made mini versions of the alaska. It makes me want to join back DB all over again.

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  26. I just saw your picture in the Daring Bakers thread and I have to say you've got the most stunning photography and styling! :O I'm mesmerised! :D

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  27. Oh I love the new look of the site. Or mayabe it's not so new, haven't been over in a while. Your photos are so fantastic, love the cross sections with the brilliant coloured ice-cream showing.

    Great job on the challenge :)

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  28. Your desserts look amazing. Great job on not only the creation of each but the photography as well. Such beautiful colors that play with each other!

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  29. My gosh your baked alaska looks sooo stunning!!

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  30. I've made a baked Alaska, but it sure didn't look like yours!
    Gorgeous! Your photos are perfectly beautiful as usual and show off your baking talent in such a creative way.

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  31. Wow gorgeous..looks super good and great job!!!

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  32. Wow...that looks delicious! The pictures are so pretty and so colorful. Great job.
    p.s. you have a beautiful blog.

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  33. Wow! Gorgeous as always.
    Mimi

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  34. Another Fabulous post as usual. love the way as you present your desserts and these wired cake stands are soo cute.

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  35. Yeaaaaaaaaaa..congrats Kris..you are the winner, :D
    http://leitesculinaria.com/52179/culinaria-food-photography-winners.html

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  36. Thanks for the comment, Kris! Your baked alaska looks amazing delicious! Since you're such an expert in baking, I have a quick question for you. When I bake cookies here in bkk, most of my cookies turned out to be softer than usual. Do you have any solution to this? I'm not sure whether it's because of the temperature here in bkk or the type of the butter we use here. But somehow, my cookies turned out to be softer and not chewy. Thanks for your help!

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  37. And another winner! You did fabulous on both challenges!

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  38. Kris - I LOVE your new theme/layout,really enhances your beautiful photography! That said, absolutely stunning Baked Alaska - love the bright ruby red sorbet AND ice cream. Your petir fours are also 'wow'. but I figured I'd kill two birdies with one stone LOL

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  39. Thanks for participating in DMBLGIT, Sept., 2010 edition. All the best to you!

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