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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Easter Baking -- Gerbeaud Bars

Even though I am considering listening to my doctor and moving away from frequent (actually, daily) dessert, in the post-Pascal season I had to try making Gerbeaud bars -- a Hungarian dessert developed by a Swiss baker named Emil Gerbeaud.  Gerbeaud is also a "coffee house" in Budapest.  If you can't get there, visit their luscious website.
The bars are made with layers of a yeast based pastry filled with apricot jam and walnuts and covered in a chocolate glaze.  Rich, mildly crunchy, not too sweet.  Ah, the breakfast of champions!

Here is the recipe from Rick Rogers' Kaffeehaus book.  I made Esterhazy Torte from the recipe in his book and it is one of the most popular posts on this blog.
This recipe consists of three parts -- the filling, the dough, the chocolate glaze.    Also, before embarking on this recipe, you need a few hours ... one for the dough to rest in the refrigerator and one for the dough to rest after the bars are assembled and before baking.  While the whole thing is not difficult, the time element means you have to have the time to make these.  The bars are worth it.  As for the time ... it provides an opportunity to sit quietly with a glass of wine and read a good book or to get on the treadmill and feel virtuous.  Whatever.
3-3/4 teasp. dry yeast
1/2 cup milk (at 105 to 115ºF)
3 egg yolks
1 teasp. vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar [I used 2/3 cup]
1/4 teasp. salt
14 Tsp. (1-3/4 sticks) butter cut into small cubes & chilled

Combine the yeast and warm milk in a measuring cup and let stand for 3 minutes.  Stir with a fork and mix in the egg yolks and vanilla.

Put the flour, salt and sugar into a mixer bowl.  Add the butter and mix on a low speed, using the paddle blade, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Add the egg and yeast mixture and mix to form a stiff and sticky dough.  Feel free to add a bit more milk of the dough is too stiff to work with.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and knead for 2 to 3 minutes.  Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.  [During this hour, spend 55 minutes reading and sipping wine and the last 5 minutes making the filling.]

1 cup walnuts [ I used 1-1/2 cups]
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup apricot preserves, warmed

Process the walnuts and sugar in a food processor using the metal blade until the nuts are finely chopped.  Warm the preserves in the microwave for a minute or two until they are easy to spread.


Butter and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  

Divide the dough in 3 parts.  Roll out each part into a 13 x 9 inch rectangle.  [I rolled the the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper, which made it easier to transfer each layer into the baking pan.]  After putting the first rectangle of dough into the bottom of the pan, press it into the corners and edges with your fingers.  Next, spread 1/2 of the apricot preserves on the dough and sprinkle on 1/2 of the walnut mixture.  Roll out the next portion of dough and fit it over the pan to cover the the apricot and walnuts.  Spread the remaining apricot preserves on the second layer of dough and sprinkle on the remaining walnut mixture.  Roll out the last portion of dough and transfer to the pan topping the contents.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm place for 1 hour.  The dough will not rise perceptibly, but the yeast is doing something.  [You can use this hour to wash the dishes and then reward yourself with more wine.]

After 1 hour, pierce the top layer of dough all over with a fork, then bake on the center rack of a pre-heated 350º F oven for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Run a sharp knife along the edges of the baking pan and invert and unmold the cake.  Cool completely leaving the cake upside-down.

Chocolate Icing:
3-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate [Semi-sweat chocolate chips work]
1/3 sugar [or less if using semi-sweet chocolate; I skipped the sugar here]
1/4 cup hot water
1 Tsp. butter

Melt chocolate, sugar and water over medium heat storing often until an instant-read thermometer reads 220º F, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and beat in the butter.  Cool the icing until lukewarm; it will be slightly thickened but remain pourable.  Pour the icing over the cake; spread evenly letting any excess icing drip over the sides.  Cool to set the icing.  Then cut into rectangular bars.  Serve at room temperature.  It's OK to serve straight from the refrigerator, but expect the bars to be crunchier than at room temperature.


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