Baking Class: Best of the best

Here are three cake recipes culled from some of the finest bakers in the country.

Apple honey pie (photo credit: Dan Lev)
Apple honey pie
(photo credit: Dan Lev)
The Al Hashulchan gourmet food magazine has published a beautiful book with recipes for what it calls its “100 best ever cakes.” The recipes, collected over the years by the editors of the magazine, were created by some of the best bakers in Israel.
We chose three recipes that we feel are best suited for the holiday time, but it was a very hard choice to make. If you’re looking for a great gift idea, take this book into consideration. Any Hebrew reader who loves to bake will be delighted to have it in their kitchen.
Try these three recipes for a sweet and happy New Year.
Karin Goren’s chocolate mousse cake is very impressive. She says that no one has to know how easy it is to make. Just serve it and wait for the compliments.
Goren has a few recipes in 100 Best Ever Cakes, but this one seems just right for the holidays. The cake has a crunchy base that doesn’t require baking, and the mousse is very quick and rich, and its consistency resembles fluffy marshmallow. With chocolate and cream, as well as egg yolks mixed with boiling honey, this cake will soon become one of your favorites.
To obtain the best result, use clear siding (available in specialty baking shops). To decorate the cake, use a stencil pattern that you can buy or make at home.
For a 26-cm. spring form: ✔ Base: 150 gr. chocolate ✔ 20 gr. butter ✔ 2 cups unsweetened rice pops
For the mousse: ✔ 1 liter cream ✔ 4 egg yolks ✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar ✔ 1⁄4 cup honey ✔ 350 gr. bitter chocolate, chopped ✔ 2 Tbsp. brandy or liqueur
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Click for more JPost High Holy Day features
For the decoration: ✔ Powdered cocoa
To prepare the base: Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. When the chocolate is melted, mix in the rice pops. Make sure all the pops are covered with chocolate.
Line the bottom of a 26-cm. spring baking form with baking paper. Line the sides with transparent siding film. Press the base chocolate mixture to the bottom with a spoon and flatten to make an even layer.
Put the cake base in the freezer while making the mousse.
To prepare the mousse: Whip the cream and refrigerate. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together on high speed for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, place honey in a small saucepan and heat until boiling. Drizzle the boiling honey into the yolk mixture while the mixer is working, and continue mixing until the mixture is light and cooled. The hot honey cooks the egg yolks, so don’t worry about using raw eggs.
Melt chocolate in the microwave.
While still hot, pour the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture and mix. The mixture will turn hard and will be a little difficult to mix – that is how it’s supposed to be. Keep mixing. When smooth, fold in one-third of the whipped cream, mix in the liqueur or brandy and fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
Pour the mousse into the crust and smooth the surface. Place in the freezer overnight or at least 3-4 hours.
A few hours before eating, remove the cake from the freezer, remove the sides of the baking form and place in the refrigerator to thaw, about 1-2 hours. Close to serving time, remove the clear siding, decorate with cocoa powder and enjoy.
Tamy Helbrecht says the recipe for this pie, with a crunchy base, tart apple cubes wrapped in a blanket of melting pastry and an almond crust, was given to her by a German friend named Ziggi. Helbrecht says she altered the recipe slightly, but for her this will always be Ziggi’s pie.
For the short pastry: ✔ 250 gr. (2 cups less 3 Tbsp.) flour ✔ 100 gr. (1⁄2 cup) sugar ✔ 125 gr. cold butter, cut into cubes ✔ 1-2 Tbsp. cold water ✔ 1 egg
For the filling: ✔ 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes ✔ Juice of 1 lemon
For the batter: ✔ 150 gr. soft butter ✔ 125 gr. (1 cup + 2 Tbsp.) sugar ✔ Zest of 1 lemon ✔ 1 egg ✔ 100 gr. (3⁄4 cup) flour ✔ 250 ml. cream
For the topping: ✔ 100 gr. (1 cup) sliced almonds ✔ 15 gr. (1 heaped Tbsp.) sugar ✔ 1 egg white
For serving: ✔ Powdered sugar Heat oven to 180º.
To make the base: Mix flour, sugar and butter in a food processor. Add egg and 1 Tbsp. cold water. Mix only until a dough forms. Add more water if needed.
Spread the dough in the bottom of a 26- cm. spring baking form.
Mix the apple cubes with the lemon juice and arrange on the dough in an even layer.
To prepare the batter: Mix butter, sugar, lemon zest and egg in a mixer bowl. Gradually add cream and flour, alternating between them. Continue mixing until smooth. Pour over the apples. Bake for 20 minutes until cake top turns golden but cake is not yet baked through. Keep oven on.
Mix sugar and the egg white, add almonds. Remove cake from the oven, spread the almonds evenly on the top.
Return the cake to the oven and continue baking for 20-25 minutes until the almonds are browned and the cake is stable.
Remove from oven, cool and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
Micky Shemo’s cake is a hit in his bakeries, especially during this holiday season.
The creme patissiere makes this a cake worthy of special days.
For 3 loaf baking forms : ✔ 25 gr. (1⁄2 cube or 1⁄2 packet) fresh yeast ✔ 150 gr. (3/4 cup) sugar ✔ 180 ml. (3⁄4 cup) cold water ✔ 770 gr. (51⁄2 cups) flour ✔ 3 large eggs ✔ 1 tsp. real vanilla extract ✔ Zest of 1⁄2 lemon ✔ 175 gr. butter, cut into small cubes ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
For the creme patissiere: ✔ 480 ml. (2 cups) milk ✔ 110 gr. (1⁄3 cup) honey ✔ 1 tsp. real vanilla extract ✔ 6 egg yolks ✔ 30 gr. (1⁄4 cup) cornstarch ✔ 50 gr. soft butter, cut into cubes ✔ 2 cups lightly roasted sliced almonds
For the topping: ✔ 1 egg, beaten ✔ 1⁄2 cup sliced almonds
To prepare the dough: Place yeast in a mixer bowl with water and sugar, and mix.
Add flour, eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest and knead for about 3 minutes in slow medium speed until the dough is smooth.
Add butter cubes one by one, while kneading until they disappear into the dough.
Continue kneading for about 7 minutes.
Add salt and knead another minute.
Place the dough in a floured bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
To prepare the creme patissiere: In a medium-size pot, bring to boil milk, honey and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and egg yolks until smooth. Pour 1 ladle of the hot milk into the cornstarch and egg mixture, and mix well. Pour the egg and cornstarch mixture back into the hot milk and honey and cook while mixing over low heat, until the cream thickens.
Pour the creme patissiere into a mixer bowl and whip for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be warm but not too hot (about body temperature). Add butter into the mixture and continue mixing until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the plastic wrap touch the whole surface of the pudding. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
Knead each part on a lightly floured surface and roll each part to 25x35-cm. rectangles about 1⁄2 cm. thick.
Spread one-third of the creme patissiere on each rectangle. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on the cream and roll the dough.
Cut each roll in half lengthwise, create a screw shape from each two halves and place in lined loaf baking forms. Cover the cakes with clean and damp kitchen towels and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 170º.
Brush the cakes with beaten egg and sprinkle with almonds.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.
The recipes and the photographs are taken from the book 100 Best Ever Cakes by Al Hashulchan.