Friday, 28 August 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge August 2009 - Dobos Torta

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 Rodger's cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Phew, I did it! I admit I was a little scared when this challenge was first announced, but after reading through the recipe a few times I decided that it was perfectly doable and so not to chicken out. The result is just lovely. Well, mine doesn't look a patch as good as a lot of the other entries I've seen (take a look here:, but it tastes absolutely divine. I just wish that that I'd timed making this with a special occasion, but hey, it's Friday and that's good enough! I'd promised something special for dessert tonight, but now I have to confess that the boys persuaded me to cut into it after lunch... hope there's still a piece left by the time K gets home.
I'm having a little trouble with blogger at the moment, it's not allowing me to paste the recipe for you but you can find it in The Daring Kitchen (it's eight pages long, so I hope you don't mind that I won't re-type it here!). As I was making this for the family, I went nut-free.

It's the butter cream that does it for me. I'd never made this type of butter cream before, but I think that it is the same type of butter cream that my mum used to use for her Gateau Diane, a creation that I would request of her every time my birthday came around!

Yeah, this was quite a challenge for me. As I said yesterday, my batter went a little flat from being left to stand. As a result, the layers were crepe thin and a little difficult to work with, and the final cake wasn't as deep as it should be (in spite of having 8 layers). I didn't encounter any problems with the top layer, which was the part I was most worried about - hurrah! A big thank you to our hosts this month for choosing such a fabulous cake for us all to make, and for the great lengths they went to to ensure that we would be able to pull it off! xxx

Thursday, 27 August 2009

It's on it's way...

OK, it's made, just not yet assembled! Ran into a few problems, mainly due to preparation. I was very prepared before I went away (more about that another day) as I knew I'd be pushed for time to meet the posting deadline, but I hadn't factored in the possibility of my MIL moving in during my absence. I happily started on the sponge mix bright and early this morning, only to find that the new bag of icing sugar I'd bought was nowhere to be found (I later discovered it 'tidied away' at the back of my plastic tub cupboard) so had to make do with half icing and half caster sugar, then when I came to prepare the layers for baking I was irritated beyond belief to find that the baking parchment bought specially for this project (and DH confirms that this was indeed prepared as I'd sent him out to buy it before I headed off into the blue yonder) had also vanished into thin air! So my lovely, creamy, light mixture sat in the fridge until this evening when I could dash out for more supplies, and by the time I came to use it had separated and need a thorough beating which knocked out a lot of the air. Oh well, I'm pleased to report that I did end up with a good number of layers, the butter cream is ready and waiting (I hope there's enough left, I kept raiding the fridge for a spoonful), and you will see the finished result tomorrow. I suppose I could finish it tonight, but then I'll have to try some and it's getting a bit late for that...


Just a quick note to let you know that I am right in the middle of doing my Daring Baker's Challenge for August and am determined to post about it before the day is out! Somebody has been using my baking paper and finished the roll without telling me. Arghhhh! Please bear with me...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A cut above

Sorry, didn't have my camera with me so you're just going to have to use your imagination for this one! I was beginning to look a bit like a shaggy dog in desperate need of a hair cut, but needed keep the purse strings tight this month in anticipation of next week's trip. Instead of heading for the luxurious, totally indulgent and relaxing salon, I chose to slum it at the cheap and cheerful 1000 yen (about £6.50) cut shop.

It's a no frills, no appointment necessary outfit, along the lines of Supercuts back home. Only of course this is Japan, so they've managed to squeeze in a bit more technology and they are super polite. I went in the evening so I could be child free, and I was the only customer so didn't have to wait at all. Bought my ticket at the vending machine and was ushered to a chair by a very nice lady who draped me with a gown and made me very comfortable. Not half as comfortable at the fancy shop on the 3rd floor, but I'm not complaining (I'll tell you about that another day). My bag is stashed away in a cupboard behind the mirror so that it doesn't get covered in hair. One of the things I really feel uncomfortable with when I visit a salon is having to stare at my own reflection, but here there is a TV screen showing the latest news updates, a great distraction, even if I can't actually read the majority of it! My stylist asked what I wanted (just a trim, wasn't about to risk anything too drastic) and set to work. Ten minutes later and she was done. Then came the highlight for me... she pulled out a long hose with a soft brush on the end from the side of the mirror and hoovered my head! What a fantastic idea! It got rid of all those prickly bits of hair that usually get stuck in your collar and down your back, far, far more effective than the quick brush off you get from a salon back home. And then finally, she presented me with a shibori (wet towel) to wipe my hands with before saying 'Otsukaresamadeshita' ('thank you for your hard work!') and bowed until I was out of sight. Hardly slumming it, eh?

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Faba-roo-ny (yeah, I have a toddler)

Had a very disappointing day today. Was feeling very sorry for myself until I walked into my kitchen and set to work on a special dinner. Earlier this week I was delighted to take delivery of a very exciting parcel from an AFWJ friend who's family have a business importing meat from Australia (, and so a have had enormous pleasure browsing my cookery books for recipes that could be tweaked to suit kangaroo and ostrich meat!

I decided not to tell K what I'd be serving and just watch his reaction to the taste. People can get very judgemental and picky about a new food just from hearing it's name, before even taking a bite. What's cute and cuddly in one country is often a delicacy in another, but I can't be doing with this pick-and-choose attitude - flesh is meat, right? I should point out that I myself am a vegetarian (I don't eat any meat or fish, my personal choice and not one that I force on others), although I do prepare and cook meat and fish dishes for my family. (Oh, and I don't understand people who claim to be vegetarian and yet eat fish, or even chicken, that always seems somewhat hypocritical to me...)

Anyway, on to tonight's dinner! I decided to attempt my own version of a recipe I saw in Nigella Lawson's Feast (Sake Steak and Rice), I suppose I could call it Kangaroo Don but let me know if you can think of anything better!

Kangaroo Donburi (serves 2, but K ate the lot!)

2 good size pieces of Kangaroo long fillet
some thinly sliced spring onion
2 shiso leaves, chopped


2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon wasabi


60ml sake
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon wasabi

As I was advised, start by soaking the fillets for a while to remove some of the blood before adding to the mixed marinade ingredients and leaving to steep for a good few hours. Take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you are ready to cook. Heat a frying pan (or a griddle if you have one) and cook the fillets for two minutes on each side. Double wrap each fillet in foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
Put the sake in a small pan and bring it to the boil before adding the remaining ingredients. Open the foil parcels and pour the juices into the sauce. Slice the meat (it should be rare and cooked perfectly), place on top of steamed rice, pour over some of the sauce, and garnish with the onion and shiso - ready to go!

A quick look at the wikipedia entry for kangaroo meat should be enough to convince you to give this a try:

So if you've read that, you now know that it is free-range, as organic as a wild animal can be, high in protein and anti-cancer and body fat reducing CLA, and very low in fat. But does it taste good? I can't tell you from my own experience, but as I said, K ate the whole lot, mumbling 'oishii, oishii' the whole time, so I can assure you that it gets the thumbs up in this house!

A huge thank you to Eric for the very generous package - friends, please do have a look at his website to see what they have to offer! And watch this space for more recipes, K is now very keen to sample ostrich...