Lavish Layers of Lush

August 27, 2009

Ah I love alliteration in blog titles, don’t you 🙂

This months DB challange was a layered Dobos torte.


The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

I enjoyed making the cakes, especially the chance to decorate and show some flair. Although, it was a bit of a last minute effort, so I wish to make it again and make it look a bit more elaborate.


After studying and envying the lovely efforts of other DB’s on the forums, I didn’t experience any of the problems with my torte. No eggy tasting sponge, no soggy yuck, or too hard to crunch through caramel (and I don’t even have a candy thermometer) and no problems with a butter cream that wouldn’t set up (although I reckon it looks a lot more like a thick ganache/custard, than the lovely light and fluffy swiss meringe butter creams I’m used to).


one slice of banana

one slice of banana

I made 2 X 6 layer mini tortes, baking two large sheets of sponge, and cutting to shape with the cake tin, rather that smoothing the mix onto a traced circle. It was a bit more likely I’d keep the air in the sponge the less I spread it around was my thought. I then simply stacked/layered and iced.


Layered sponge

Layered sponge

I wanted to use a banana caramel cream sort of flavour, so it wouldn’t be overpoweringly chocolaty and sickly sweet. I attempted to make a banana cream cheese buttercream, using icing sugar, butter, mashed banana and some cream cheese. It ended up looking a lot thinner than I needed, so I added corn flour and heated to a thicker consistency and chilled before using. I also made the choc buttercream using the recipe on the post, but used 70% dark choc, and adding some hand pestled hazelnut paste, trying to create a praline. It tasted really nice together. The other cake I just used the praline buttercream, and moistened layers with some coffee sugar syrup.


coffee cake

coffee cake

The caramel top layer was easy, as long as I made everything super greasy to begin. It even held up well in the fridge for a few days without going to a puddle.


Banana praline

Banana praline

I’d definately like to make this on a grander scale for a celebration cake, and really let my head go with the decor 🙂 And a double yum on the taste test, love the caramel bit to the top as well, very special.

Mmm and we'll keep eating :)

Mmm and we'll keep eating 🙂


Tender squid surprise

August 14, 2009

P8060623This months Daring Cook challange was Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
, A spanish recipe chosen by DC Olga


I’d never tasted artichokes, but tried my best to clean them from the ‘choke’ I think I still left a few of the tougher outer leaves on, as it was difficult to tell where they finished and the tender inside ones began. The tender ones didn’t taste of anything special, but weren’t anything to rave about either.


The recipe was really straight forward and involved cooking the rice and other ingredients in stock and a thick, flavoursome tomato, capsicum and garlic sauce The sauce smelt lovely cooking, and was all absorbed and encorporated into the rice Cooking the squid long and slow made it very tender. I don’t particularly like the smell of seafood, but love squid. When this dish was cooking, the smell was a little strong for me, but once heated up and served with the garlic aoli oil, it was absolutely deliscious. I ate bowl after big bowl full the whole week after cooking of it. I didn’t tire of it easily.


Making the aoli seemed simple. I know the basic principle, and have made thick egg mayonaise before, pouring the oil in drop by drop to get it to emulsify nicely, getting thick and creamy. I took my time trying to mash the garlic and oil and emulsing it, but disaster struck, just as it looked like things would turn out. My shaky hand got the better of me and too much oil went in at once. I tried to use more garlic paste and re-encorporate the garlic oil into an aoli emulsion, alas no luck. But the garlic oil I was left with was equally deliscious spooned generously over the rice. It made for a lovely, almost buttery mouth feel.


I’ll definately make this again. Hopefully I can find some cuttlefish to make it a bit more authentic next time


Here’s the recipe:

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional
  1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
  3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
  6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.



Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano


  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.