I've got a bit of a thing for recipe books, I don't buy them very often but I do love them and will happily spend hours looking through them in search of inspiration; so when I was offered a copy of Bake To Impress by Christian Hümbs to review of course I accepted. Christian Hümbs is a German patissier who is a judge on the German Bake-Off, has worked at a host of Michelin starred restaurants and hotels and was awarded German Patissier of the year in 2014; Bake To Impress is his first book.
The book is broken down into four sections - quick and easy, international classics, special and unusual and master baking to impress. There is a wide variation of recipes with a few classics and plenty of different and unusual bakes and flavours such as yuzu tart, lychee and green tea macarons and cronuts with yuzu jelly. There are also a lot more cupcake and muffin recipes than I would expect from a patisserie book, but they are all very unique flavours (walnut and red wine and rice pudding are two examples) and are quite intricately decorated. Every single recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photograph of the finished dessert, which I view as a massive bonus, it is always helpful to see what you are making should look like.
I do have a couple of qualms with the book, firstly there are a lot of recipes that use vanilla blancmange powder as an ingredient which is a little odd, and not something I have ever come across before. Given that the ingredients of blancmange powder are simply cornflour and flavourings, I think that in most recipes you could simply substitute it with cornflour and vanilla extract; which makes me question why he didn't simply do that in the first place. A few of the recipes also use some slightly uncommon ingredients, such as isomalt syrup, almond nougat, cocoa butter and yuzu sake; this is to be expected in a patisserie book and they should be fairly easy to find online. Secondly, some of the instructions are a little vague so I would say that this is a book for experienced bakers rather than beginners as it is best to have a good grasp of the basics. If you fancy winning a copy of Bake To Impress then you can enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.
I chose to bake the Dresden sugar cake as it is not something I have heard of before and I can't resist sweet, enriched breads. It consists of a soft, enriched dough base, with a crisp, buttery, slightly custardy sugar topping. It was fairly simple to make, my only issue was that the recipe called for a 28cm (11in) springform tin which I didn't have so I used a 23cm one instead, this meant that the topping was a little too thick in the middle so the centre of the cake turned out quite soft, it was still delicious but I recommend using a 28cm tin if you have one. The cake is sort of similar to German butterkuchen and is lovely with a cup of coffee.
Dresden Sugar Cake
- 135 ml (½ cup + 1tbsp) milk
- 5 g (1 ½ tsp) fast action yeast
- 25 g (2 tbsp) caster sugar
- 250 g (2 cups + 1tbsp) plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 35 g (2 tbsp) soft, unsalted butter
- 180 g (¾ cup) unsalted butter
- 2 medium eggs
- 180 g (¾ cup + 2tbsp) caster sugar
- 40 g (⅓ cup) plain flour
- Heat the milk until lukewarm; mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a bowl, add the butter and milk and mix everything together to form a dough. Turn out onto an un-floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic - because the dough is made with plain rather than strong flour it will not be as elastic as usual bread dough.
- Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour until doubled in size.
- Butter a 23-28cm (9-11in) round springform tin then press the dough out evenly in the tin so that it covers the base. Cover and set aside to prove for about half an hour until puffy.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and make the topping.
- Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat, set aside to cool slightly; whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl until smooth then add the butter and mix until well combined.
- Pour the topping mixture evenly over the risen dough then bake on the lower shelf of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes if using a 28cm tin, or 30-40 minutes if using a 23cm tin. It should be golden brown and the topping should be set; if the top browns before it is cooked through then cover the cake with foil.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out and slicing.
I am sharing this with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Fiesta Friday hosted by A Pug In The Kitchen and Cooking Is My Sport, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday and Friday Features
Bake To Impress Giveaway:
– Two winners will receive the following: A copy of Bake to Impress By Christian Hümbs
– The giveaway open to UK residents over the age of 18 only.
– The giveaway ends on the 24th of July 2016 at 11:59:59 PM.
– Entries using an automated process or software to create bulk entries will be disqualified.
– The winners will be randomly selected, announced in the Gleam giveaway box and contacted via their provided e-mail address shortly afterwards. Please claim your prize within 4 days of being notified.