Daring Bakers: Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin | Korena in the Kitchen

For the March Daring Bakers’ Challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte Tatin from scratch.

This month I was excited to host another Daring Bakers’ challenge, for which I chose the tarte Tatin. This classic French dessert is basically the apple pie version of an upside-down cake: apples are caramelized in sugar in a saucepan, covered with pastry and baked, and then inverted on a plate to serve. It’s a great example of the magic of caramelized sugar: the apples take on a deep, rich mahogany colour and become infused with the complex flavours of a well-cooked caramel, and the crisp puff pastry base also becomes practically candied with caramel at the edges, resulting in a fantastic mix of soft, crunchy, and chewy textures.

The tart is named after the Tatin sisters, who ran a hotel near Paris in the 1880s. Apparently, one day one of the sisters forgot to put a bottom crust on her apple pie, but instead of the disaster she was expecting to pull out of the oven, she ended up with a dessert so loved by the hotel guests that it became the hotel’s signature dish. However, this sweet story conflicts with the fact that a similar upside-down apple tart called tarte Solognotte (named after the Sologne region in France) existed long before the tarte Tatin, suggesting that the Tatin sisters’ creation was actually just an updated and improved version of the tarte Solognotte. Either way, it is a stunningly delicious yet simple and rustic dessert….

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Brunch for Forty

Brunch for Forty | Korena in the KitchenLast weekend I had the opportunity to cater a day-after-the-wedding brunch for a friend’s family. I love this kind of thing because not only do I get to bake and cook to my heart’s content, but I also get to do a lot of figuring out: coming up with a menu, researching recipes, scaling them up and down, and writing out list after list. Calculating exactly how many eggs I will need to make a dozen quiche plus four dozen cinnamon brioche buns is the kind of math I can get behind. I found a great resource in Ellen’s Kitchen for estimating quantities for large gatherings, although it doesn’t say much for my math skills when my estimates, in most cases, ended up being about twice what they should have been! But it’s better to have more food than not enough, right?

Cinnamon Brioche Buns | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Asian Coconut Custard Buns

Asian Coconut Custard Buns | Korena in the KitchenThe February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge recipe is known by many names – bao, mantou, nikuman, siopao and others – but the common denominator is that is it an Asian-style bun, stuffed with a filling (often Chinese bbq pork) and baked. At first I wasn’t too excited because I had so recently made the steamed version of this recipe with the Sourdough Surprises group, but then I remembered Suz’s custard-filled steamed buns, and suddenly I knew that I wanted to make a baked version.

Asian Coconut Custard Buns | Korena in the Kitchen

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Melissa Clark’s Devil’s Food Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream

Melissa Clark's Devil's Food Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream | Korena in the KitchenI’ve been trying to write this post about this Devil’s Food Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream for three days now but seem to be experiencing writer’s block, so in an attempt to get something down on the page so that I can share it with you in time for Valentine’s Day (because nothing is more appropriate than chocolate cake on Valentine’s Day), I give you the following Reasons You Should Make This Cake:

1) It has not one but two kinds of frosting: Swiss meringue buttercream filling laced with vanilla and cracked black pepper (yes, pepper), and the most divine whipped chocolate fudge frosting on the outside. Black pepper might sound like an odd thing to pair with classic chocolate and vanilla, but it’s not odd – it’s very, very good.

Melissa Clark's Devil's Food Cake with Black Pepper Buttercream | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Esterhazy Torte

IMG_8028Esterhazy Torte | Korena in the Kitchen

For the month of January Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

A sweet dream? I could not agree more. The Esterhazy torte is a Hungarian pastry made of five layers of hazelnut sponge cake and hazelnut buttercream, all topped off with a gorgeous starburst of chocolate. If you like hazelnuts (or Nutella, Fererro Rocher, or Frangelico), then this is the cake for you!

Esterhazy Torte | Korena in the Kitchen

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Lemon Curd Macarons

Lemon Curd Macarons | Korena in the Kitchen

Happy New Year, friends! Here’s to 2015 being the sweetest year yet, and what better way to start a sweet year than with a lemon curd macaron? Given that you can buy lemons and oranges year round in any grocery store, it can be easy to forget that citrus is in fact a winter fruit. However, the explosion of different varieties of lemons, oranges, and grapefruits during the colder months of the year proves that nature still works on a schedule, and that schedule clearly states that citrus coincides with winter, making a lemon curd macaron a perfectly Christmas-y (I made these as part of my Christmas Baking) or New Years-y thing, indeed.

Lemon Curd Macarons | Korena in the Kitchen

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Daring Bakers: Peperkoek

Peperkoek | Korena in the KitchenFor the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our taste buds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread.

I very nearly didn’t do this challenge, but last night I re-read the recipe and realized that it was incredibly simple and also that I’ve really liked every other Dutch baked good I’ve ever made, so I baked it first thing this morning and now here I am juuuuuust squeaking in under the deadline. Turns out that ontbijtkoek, or Dutch breakfast bread, is the perfect thing to nibble on while you sip tea, contemplate your Christmas holidays, and forget what day it is.

Peperkoek | Korena in the Kitchen

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Linzer Cookies

Linzer Cookies | Korena in the Kitchen

If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas cookie, I think I may have found it: the Linzer cookie. Last year I made a Linzer torte – rich walnut pastry spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest filled with raspberry jam – that ended up being my favourite item on the Christmas Baking List, and I couldn’t wait to try it in cookie form. They have that traditional Old World Christmas feel thanks to their Austrian roots, and are just fussy enough (rolling the dough, cutting out the cookies, assembling them, etc) to fall into the “special occasion” category.

Linzer Cookies | Korena in the Kitchen

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Classic Molded Shortbread

Classic Molded Shortbread | Korena in the KitchenI’ve had this post “on deck” for about two weeks now but just haven’t been able to find the time to add the pictures and actually publish it. I remember when I was posting three times a week on this here blog – now I’m lucky if I can manage three posts a month! However, with it being the 2014 Christmas Baking Season, and with all the blog-worthy baking that has been coming out of my kitchen, and fact that I’m off work for a few weeks over the holidays, maybe I’ll actually be able to get it together to post a few more times before this month is over…

Classic Molded Shortbread | Korena in the Kitchen

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Cocoa-Cinnamon Palmiers {and what to get the foodie on your list}

Cocoa Cinnamon Palmiers | Korena in the KitchenAs the foodie in my family and circle of friends, over the years I have received a good amount of useful, useless, awesome and/or strange kitchen gadgets for Christmas. And while I always appreciate a gift and the fact that someone thought of me when they saw those silicon pot holders or these teeny tiny tongs or this decorative cheese knife or that Slap Chop (OK, so maybe the Slap Chop ended up at the thrift store…), there’s only so much room in my kitchen. In my case, the kitchen gadgetry gifts are combined with being “the one who likes cats”, which explains how I came to own not one but TWO cat-shaped ceramic creamers.

cat creamers | Korena in the Kitchen

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