Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Baked Alaska

Brown Butter Pound Cake Baked Alaska

We are no strangers to Baked Alaska. Mini Me's birthday is in July, so Baked Alaska has been her birthday dessert many times. For that reason, I was thinking of skipping this challenge, but when I went to the Daring Bakers forum, people were raving about the browned butter pound cake. Since we usually make ours with a chocolate cake or brownie bottom, the pound cake was the perfect excuse to make Baked Alaska again.

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”. If you want the recipes visit Elissa.

Instead of one big cake, we made mini baked Alaska's with brown sugar ice cream. The brown butter pound cake was delicious, but I have to say that the ice cream was a bit of a disappointment. You would have a hard time identifying brown sugar as the main flavor. It had good texture that stayed smooth and creamy, but just didn't have enough of the brown sugar flavor that we were expecting. If you have a brown sugar ice cream that you love, please leave me a link, or a comment if you think you know how to tweak the following recipe to make it perfect.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream
•4 egg yolks
•1 cup heavy cream
•1 cup (packed) brown sugar
•3 cups half-and-half or light cream
•1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In heavy, medium, non-aluminum saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and brown sugar until thick. In another medium saucepan bring the cream and half and half just to a boil over moderate heat. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon about 6 minutes. Do Not Boil.
Immediately strain the custard into a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 5 hours.

Pour the cold custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Let the ice cream soften slightly before serving.

Brown Butter Pound Cake Baked Alaska 

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
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

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
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.

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

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. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

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.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Meringue (For the Baked Alaska)
8 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar
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.

Assembly Instructions – Baked Alaska
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. I used a cookie scoop that was the same diameter as my mini cakes.  Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.
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. Or any size you like I made mine 2.5 inches
Make the meringue (see above.)
Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary. 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.

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.

The winner of the CSN give away is Grace at A Southern Grace. Send me your e-mail address and CSN will e- mail you your gift code.