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There is no easy way to say what we’re about to say but we sadly have to tell you that the Dec 2016 challenge will be the last daring kitchen challenge. Through the past two years we have tried everything we could think of to breathe life back into the daring kitchen but sadly the interaction and the number of members who actually take part in each challenge have been on a steady decline. We no longer see the point in asking hosts to put all that time and effort into making, photographing and writing challenges only to have a handful of people take part in them. It is really no one’s fault but unfortunately it seems that the time for the daring kitchen has come to an end.

It has been a true pleasure to be part of the daring kitchen for all those years and an honor to run it in the past two. We just have one last favor to ask of you, we need your in help moving the archive. We are planning to move all the daring kitchen archives to a wordpress blog – for each recipe, the text needs to be copied, the images and pdfs saved, then everything rebuilt on wordpress. It will be a huge job, but worth the effort – we can then share the url and password with anyone who wants to pitch in, then publish once it is ready and rolling.

If you would like to help, leave a comment here or send an email to Rachael (rachael@pizzarossa.me) or to Sawsan (thechefindisguise@gmail.com). Finally, we would like to thank each and every one of you. The daring kitchen has been an amazing community through all these years. We have learnt so much from each other and there aren’t enough words to express our gratitude for the kindness and support that you all showed us through these past two years.

This final Daring Kitchen Challenge is hosted by Francijn Brouwer, from Netherlands who blogs on “Koken in de Brouwerij” and has previously hosted challenges including “Stuffed Speculaas” and “Baumkuchen”. This month she challenges everyone to bake oliebollen, commonly called Dutch Donuts. Nearly every Dutch person eats oliebollen on New Year’s eve. Everywhere in The Netherlands you will find mobile oliebollen bakeries during the winter months.

The historical roots of oliebollen can be traced back to the Batavians and Frisians around the start of this era. At that time they were not round but flat, cooked in a small amount of oil and were called oliekoeken. In the middle ages a tradition was born of giving the poor people oliekoeken when they came to wish you a happy new year. Only in the wealthy 17th century people started to use more oil, and make these round oliebollen. Olie (pronounced: ow-ly) means oil and Koeken (singular: koek, pronounced: cook, cooken) is something like big cookies.

The cheapest oliebollen are just plain without filling and the worst are cooked in too cold or old oil, and are soggy. As I usually steer clear of fried stuff, I might have skipped this challenge, had it not been our very last chance of baking together with my fellow Daring bakers. I deliberately scooped my oliebollen smaller than the regular ice cream scoop size to create mini versions which I served warm with mango & pineapple jam on the sides.

OLIEBOLLEN

Ingredients:

300g / 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

200g / 1 1/2 cup plus 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour

10g / 3 teaspoons instant yeast

10g / 1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

25g / 2 tablespoons caster sugar (light brown)

3g / 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

150ml / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown beer

175ml / 3/4 cup water (room temperature)

175ml / 3/4 cup milk (room temperature)

50g / 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

1 small egg, room temperature (beaten)

200g (7 oz., or 1 1/3 cups) raisins (without clumps)

1 small apple or half a big apple (firm variety)

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl mix flours and yeast with a whisk. Add salt, sugar and cinnamon, and mix again.
  • Add beer, water and milk, melted butter, and egg. Attach the paddle to your mixer (or the dough hook).

  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly until the dough becomes elastic, a few minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime cut the apple in small cubes. Add raisins and apple to dough, mix well with a spatula.

  • Put a wet towel over the bowl, and let the dough rise for about an hour until it is nearly doubled in size.
  • Put the oil in your deep fryer. Heat it to 180°C / 355°F. Have a timer handy to keep track of frying time.

  • To get ready for cooking: place baking tray on the counter and cover it with two layers of paper towels.
  • Have something ready to place scoops/spoons on so as to not cover your working counter with grease.

  • Once dough has doubled in size and the oil is hot, dip your ice scoop in the oil to avoid it from sticking.
  • Fill with dough, leveling against the side of the bowl. Take care to include reasonable amount of filling.

  • Release the dough ball carefully into the hot oil, by sticking the scoop into the oil and pulling the lever.
  • Start timer and observe the oliebol. It will start floating around, and after some time, should turn over.

  • If the oliebol does not turn over, help it by flipping it when the frying time is halfway over, using a fork.
  • After five minutes of frying, take it out of the oil and put it on the tray with paper towel. Wait a minute.

  • Cut it through the middle with a sharp knife and check the centre of oliebollen for a bread-like texture.
  • If you are satisfied with the doneness of the texture, start again, but now with a few oliebollen at once.

  • Keep frying till no dough is left, and make sure the oliebollen are all same size for even cooking times.
  • Oliebollen are best when eaten when they are still hot and crunchy and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

  • Makes 25 oliebollen (each around 6cm / 2.5″ in diameter). Do not store oliebollen in the refrigerator.
  • Oliebollen freeze very well. Just put them in an airtight container and you can enjoy them for months.

Daring Bakers December 2016 Challenge

These must be the best madeleines I must have baked till date with a perfect light and airy texture and a gorgeous nutty hint of browned butter I had almost forgotten. The acquisition of a new madeleine pan for Christmas was purely accidental; I could not resist buying one after setting eyes on the matte black tray in Super U. To test my brand new bake ware, there was no more persuasive recipe than these Christmas-inspired cakes, flavored with gingerbread spices, from the Kitchy Kitchen. My first batch got hopelessly stuck to the ungreased pan though it ended up as a delicious crumb topping over vanilla flecked ice cream and crème Chantilly as my impromptu Christmas lunch dessert. The second try yielded far better results after I went a bit more cautious and coated the pan with a liberal amount of baking spray but I decided against dipping them in the molasses glaze, favoring a dusting of icing sugar for the final look.

GINGERBREAD MADELEINES

Ingredients:

9 tablespoons browned butter

2 large eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup white granulated sugar

1 large pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoons ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the Molasses Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon molasses

3 tablespoons whole milk

Method:

  • Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess.

  • Place in the fridge. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), whip the eggs.

  • Add sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat well for 5 minutes until the mixture turns pale and thickened.

  • Whisk together the flour, spices, and baking powder and carefully fold in flour with rubber spatula.

  • Drizzle browned butter into the batter, little at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate.

  • Fold until all the butter is incorporated. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Meanwhile make the glaze by mixing all ingredients until smooth.

  • Plop enough batter in the center of each mold to fill it by three quarter full but do not spread batter.

  • Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until cakes just feel set, they should bounce back when pressed with finger.

  • Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. Cool it to room temperature.

  • When they are cool enough to handle, dip each into glaze, turning over so that both sides are coated.

  • Scrape off any excess and rest them on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the glaze firms up.

If you have a liking for sweet spices, I have a feeling you might get seriously hitched to this lightly spiced milkshake from Delicious, which blends cinnamon and ginger into a refreshing ice-cold beverage they have rightly named as ‘gingerbread milkshake’. My biscuit crumbs unfortunately did not hold up well against the glass rims as I was far too impatient to wait for the decorative edge to set in the fridge before I could fill them up with thick, creamy shake full of festive flavors. As we hit the full blast of summer heat this December, this would be my drink of choice to slurp over on a lazy afternoon as I wrap gifts and hampers for others to discover under the Christmas tree.

GINGERBREAD MILKSHAKE

10 ginger thin biscuits

1/4 cup (90g) honey

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

1L (4 cups) whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 tablespoons golden syrup

Cinnamon quills, to serve

Method:

  • Whiz the ginger biscuits to fine crumbs in food processor, then transfer the crumbs to a plate.
  • Place the honey on a separate plate. Dip the rim of 4 serving glasses in honey, then in crumbs.

  • Chill to firm up. Place remaining ingredients, except cinnamon quills, in a blender and blend.
  • Blend till smooth and pour into glasses. Decorate with cinnamon quills and serve immediately.

Gingerbread Milkshake

This beautiful Italian cookie will be a lovely addition to any Christmas cookie tray with its delicate almond flavour which gives it a light, almost-macaron like texture as you bite into one. The flourless batter gets its structure from crumbled almond paste beaten into egg white meringue which while difficult to work with, benefits from a brief rest in the fridge before it goes into the oven. The recipe, from Ciao Chow Bambina, instructs to roll the dough into pignoli/ pine nuts but I found it easier and less messy to sprinkle them over after piping the cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets. Though the finished cookies should have been golden in colour, my inadvertent lack of watchfulness resulted in them being overdone by a minute or so with no major harm done taste-wise so I would advise you to set a kitchen timer and rotate the sheets halfway through to ensure even browning for crisp and visually perfect cookies.

PIGNOLI COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated white sugar

3 egg whites, room temperature

280g almost paste, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup pine nuts/ pignoli

Confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Method:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and egg whites.

  • Crumble almond paste into egg mixture and add salt and almond extract. Whip mixture until smooth.

  • When mixture is smooth after about 5 minutes, set aside allowing batter to firm up, about 10 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the pignoli into a bowl.

  • When the batter is firm enough, scoop 1/2 tablespoon measures and roll the batter into the pine nuts.

  • Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden.

  • Rotate pans from the upper and lower thirds of the oven, half way through baking for even browning.

  • Leave the cookies to cool completely on a wire rack before sprinkling them with confectioners’ sugar.

Pignoli Cookies

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