Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Archive for January, 2010

Nanaimo Bombe – DB January Challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on January 27, 2010

I missed the last two months of the DB’s for no better reason than just being too busy to catch up.  They put out some great Canolis in November and some stunning gingerbread houses in December.  I couldn’t stand to miss yet another challenge.

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

The general idea was to make gluten free Graham Crackers and then incorporate them into the cookie base of a Canadian Nanaimo Bar.  The bars themselves consist of a chocolate base, in this case with Walnuts, Graham Cracker pieces and Coconut, with a ‘custard’ (though some say it’s more like a buttercream) center, topped with melted chocolate, sliced and served cold, or at least they were in this case. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Chocolate, Cookies, DB Challenge, mousse, Recipes | 4 Comments »

Chocolate Creme Chiboust Fail (and a giveaway)

Posted by osakaben41 on January 26, 2010

The pre-fail shot

There have been a few baking fails along the way, most of which I try to ignore and pretend they never happened.  Except of course when they’re really spectacular and noteworthy.  Under those standards have I got a whopper for you.

The idea was to recreate another Johnny Iuzzuni creation, which Aran did so beautifully some time ago  (how is it that every time I get inspired it turns out she’s already beat me to it?).  It’s a chocolate tart shell filled with a lemon custard and topped with a Chocolate Chiboust (Chocolate meringue stabilized with some gelatin, baked ever so briefly).  Having never had chocolate and lemon together I was initially skeptical, but there are some examples out there to look to. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chocolate, dough, Lemon, Tarts | Leave a Comment »

Pear Cardamom Butter

Posted by osakaben41 on January 24, 2010

Another quick one again, and not even a dessert this time.  We had friends over for brunch this morning, so in the search for something fun to make I came across a great idea over at The Travelers Lunchbox, a very simple, straightforward Pear and Cardamom butter.

With the promise that Pear and cardamom go together like Apple and Cinnamon, this proved too tempting, and too easy to pass up.  We went through a jam phase some years back, even making the apple butter that served as a filling for our wedding cake, so had some experience with the process.  Cutting this recipe in third though means we don’t have to go through the waterbath and the bell jars etc.

And what good is the best jam without something equally decent to put it on?  A favorite go-to bread recipe has been the NY Times version of 18 hour bread (AKA, “No-Knead” bread).  I love the color I get out of this approach, and the tender crumb really worked well here.

As for the taste, I am now a HUGE fan of this pairing.  I’m sure at some point this is going to pop up again in either a Macaron, mousse, or panna cotta form, but for now I’m officially on a Caradmom kick.

Posted in Fruit, Jam | 1 Comment »

Cherry Almond Financier

Posted by osakaben41 on January 23, 2010

For better or worse the January Daring Bakers Challenge (to be posted on the 27th, the official “reveal date”) took a lot out of me, lots of components, new techniques, big fun.  I love these large complicated projects, but needed something ‘one-note’ to clean the palette.

The hope was to try to recreate what I thought was a new idea, but as with so many things had already been done, and done better by Aran at Cannelle et Vanilla, Candied Kumquat and Pistachio Financiers.  For some reason though I’ve had the hardest time finding Kumquats.  After the 5th place I tried over three days proved fruitless (bad pun intended), I abandoned the plan and went instead with an Almond Cherry approach.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Fruit | 3 Comments »

Elvis Macarons (Mac Attack III)

Posted by osakaben41 on January 10, 2010

I’m a sucker for a decent online challenge, so when I came across the new MacTweets site, I just had to put something together. The rules for this round are


A good part of the appeal was the excuse to keep practicing something that I’d ruined at least 8 or 9 times but have recently gotten marginally proficient at.  Beyond that, I’ve had the Macaron fever for some time now, imagining different flavors when perhaps I should spend more time working.  Some people go to bed haunted by visions of tetris blocks falling, I’ve been seeing new uses for Chamomile, Poppy Seeds, and yes Bacon. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chocolate, Cookies, Nuts | 5 Comments »

Apple Danish Braid

Posted by osakaben41 on January 9, 2010

A few weeks before starting this blog I tried out a Julia Child inspired Danish Braid, filled with apricot puree and pastry cream.  It was a great success for a first attempt, but way way too sweet to call brunch  We had friends over this morning though, so I took the opportunity to try it out again, just with a toned down apple filling.

I was given a fantastic Pastry textbook for Christmas from the CIA,Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft that I wanted to use this time.  The most obvious difference though between a professional formula and a lay-persons is one of scale.  Perhaps someday I’ll need 10.5 lbs of Danish dough, but not this weekend.  Rather than sweat through the math, it was back to Julia again. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in dough, Fruit, Nuts, Pastry | 1 Comment »

Chestnut Buche de Noel

Posted by osakaben41 on January 1, 2010

My apologies for going dark there for the last month or so.  The long story made short, a few weeks back I was commissioned to make cakes for a local company for a charity event serving over 300 people.  Awash with pride and excitement I killed myself for a week, staying up late each night, ruining our kitchen, and going through more than 50 eggs to make the deadline.  At the end of it all, the overall sense was that the cake was too dry.  And they were right, I didn’t use enough syrup on my genoise, and knew it at the time but charged ahead anyway.  After having a ball making little tarts and the occasional ice cream I tried to take it to the next level and was rightly smacked down for my hubris.  I’ll probably get back up on that horse sometime soon, if the opportunity presents itself again, but had to retreat temporarily and lick some wounds, if not just catch up on some sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, mousse | Leave a Comment »