Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not Much Baking Going On-A late TWD entry

I just don't feel like baking much in the summer. The thought of heating up the house, just makes me get in the car and go the Dairy Queen along with everyone else in town. The lines at our local downtown Dairy Queen are 10 or so people long these days.

But as I clean our my fridge to go on vacation next week (another reason I have not been baking)I came across the ingredients to a recent TWD, cherries, rhubarb and plums. So I baked up a batch of cobbler to go along with my Summer vegetable soup.

It is so beautiful, the deep reds and fluffy biscuit top. The house did not get to hot and I have a wonderful fruity treat.

Now I am going to make some zucchini muffins with our endless supply of garden zucchini.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Kitchen Table

I have one of those kitchens that have character but just suck to cook in. No counter space and strange set up. I love the old built in cabinets and crown molding but it is not functional. I also hate the cheap newer sink and counter. But changing things is so expensive so I have been making due.

When this house was built in the 20's the kitchen was not supposed to be the center of the house like it has become today. I have been looking for ways to change the kitchen ever since we moved in.
This week I got a butcher block center island/table and I am so pleased. I how have a great work surface that is next to the sink and the stove. If only my fridge was in the kitchen instead of the hall. But I am happy with the addition.

Last week I found an old bread box that I thought would fit under my counters but did not, but will work out great under the new table.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

TWD-Apple/Cheddar Scones

Scones are really a treat. I have a great neighborhood bakery, The New Day Bakery, that makes great scones. It is one of my weekend morning treats to my self. The owner Christine, makes all kinds of scones. Some of my favorites are Blueberry/Peach, Pear/Almond, and I love the cheese omelet scone. So this weeks TWD pick is both sweet and savory with the apples and cheese. A great snack, apples and cheese. Should only be better in a scone. I have never quit masters the slight hand it takes to make great biscuits/scones. So here we go again.

I only looked briefly at the list of ingredients and knew I needed butter milk but thought I had everything else. No. I did not note it called for dried apples, so I used fresh. Over all these were some of the best scones I have ever made. they rose nicely and the bottoms did not burn. Not to crumbly or to cake like.. I like the extra crunch from the corn meal, but using fresh apples did not impart much apple flavor. So I think the dried would have really added something. I think the basic scone mixture would go well with a ton of other flavors like cranberries or peaches or even spinach and feta cheese. Oh I also always bake my scones together and then slice them after baking. I feel they are much moister that way.

Oh,sorry for posting early, but I am sending my computer off to be fixed in the morning and will be unable to post on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Coconut Cream Merange Pie

The other day we were in the car driving around Morgantown, teaching Will how to drive, and we heard a description of a dinner on NPR that included Coconut Cream Pie. The whole car said" Oh that would be soooooo good". So today I made the pie. I made a custard with whole milk, egg yolks and cornstarch. Added some butter and coconut extract. Used the egg whites to make the topping and added some shredded coconut on top. The extract I have is really great tasting and the custard is SO yummy!. My egg whites beat up nicely with the addition of cream of tarter and then browned on the peaks in the oven. I cant wait for dinner so we can all dig in.

Monday, June 9, 2008

TWD-Poached White Peach Tart

I am back from the beach and ready to bake. I just got my computer back today and checked the choice for tomorrow and found the Strawberry tart. Well I have no strawberries but I do have some very nice white peaches and a small jar of peach jelly bought two weeks ago at our local farmers market. So my tart is going to be mad with peaches that I am poaching in a half red half white wine syrup and putting over the peach jelly and see what we get.

Friday, May 30, 2008


After a recent trip to NYC, my friend Molly and I were lamenting the availability of good bagels in Morgantown WV. We both had a few truly great bagels in New York. they are available everywhere and toasted with cream cheese, they are the best.

So I decided to make a batch and see if I could make some good ones.

I have to say, that like any yeast bread, bagels are very satisfying to make. I love the smell of yeast rising and baking. My house smelled soo so good. I did an overnight cold rise in the fridge and baked them on day two. I made plain and some with toasted sesames on the top.

This picture is taken when the bagels are in the water bath being boiled for a minute. This step gives the bagel the chewy outside texture and only takes a minute to do.
I only made a dozen. I used the recipe from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. I love Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan and this is a great cookbook. The bagels recipe is on pages 87-90. It is to long to type out, but this is a great resource and anyone interested in baking should get this book. I liked her advise to throw a few ice cubes in the bottom of your 500 degree oven when you put your bagels in to bake. It creates steam and helps the texture of your bagels while baking.
These bagels have come out of the water and I have brushed on some egg/water and coated them with sesame seeds. On my baking stone I put down some cornmeal the prevent the bagels from sticking. I like the added texture too.

Everyone should make bagels. They taste so good fresh and are no harder to make than bread.

My bagels had no real hole in the middle. In the recipe it says to make big holes before boiling and I thought I did, but after baking they were just indentations. Good for sandwiches though. These bagels were eaten so quickly that no sandwich got made with them.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

TWD-Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

This weeks Tuesday with Dorie recipe picked by Madam Chow of Madam Chow’s Kitchen has chosen… Pecan Honey Sticky buns. The buns are made with Dorie's wonderful brioche dough that we made the Raisin Snail's with a few months ago. Last time I had some trouble with the dough, combining the butter, but this time I softened the butter a bit more and used the bread hook and it was much easier to make. I froze half the dough to use later. My mom used to make pecan buns all the time when I was growing up and I love the flavors of pecans, cinnamon and honey syrup. My moms recipe was just a traditional yeast bread dough. I love the brioche dough in this recipe.

The syrup was easy to put together and I cut down a bit on the pecans. I love pecans but thought the amount in the recipe would overwhelm my kids.

The pecan buns can out great. The brioche dough melts in your mouth and the cinnamon filling was perfect.

I took some over to friends and they both said "Oh My God!" when they bit into them.

I will definitely make these again.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Makes 15 buns
For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces1/4 cup honey1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)
For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar1 tablespoon ground cinnamon3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).
To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.
To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.
To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.
Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.
What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour2 teaspoons salt3 large eggs, at room temperature1/4 cup sugar3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg1 tablespoon water
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)
The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.
Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TWD- Traditional Madeleines

Up until this weekend, I have never made Madeleine's before. I love there shape and have always wondered about the texture and the flavor of these cookies. Well first off I would have to question if they are really cookies. They seem more like cake or muffins to me. Not that that's bad, but not at all what I was expecting.

My first batch came out overfilled and the shape did not seem like a Madeleine, but more like a strange muffin. The bottoms had OK shell imprint.

So my next batch I made sure to fill way less in each , but forgot to spray the pan so they were really hard to get out. These I tossed on some sugar. My last batch I overfilled again, and dipped the corners in a lemon icing.
I did get nice "humps" on the backs of the cookies. And they are very tender and springy. I was just disappointed in the edges. Maybe its the pan! Or maybe I just put to much batter in each mold.

Also in half of the batter I added the spices and it is a very nice flavor with the lemon.

I will be making more of these and trying different flavors. I am going to make the chocolate stuffed ones next I think.

Traditional Madeleine's
Source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of Madeleine's. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the Madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 full-size Madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini Madeline molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don’t worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven’s heat will take care of that. Bake large Madeline's for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the Madeline's from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant Madeline's from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.
Just before serving, dust the Madeleine's with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies

Serving: Serve the cookies when they are only slightly warm or when they reach room temperature, with tea or espresso.

Storing: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, the Madeleine's should be eaten soon after they are made. You can keep them overnight in a sealed container, but they really are better on day 1. If you must store them, wrap them airtight and freeze them; they’ll keep for up to 2 months.

Monday, May 12, 2008

No TWD but Magnolia Bakery in NYC

I am going to have to skip the Florida cake chosen by Dianne of Dianne’s Dishes this week. I took a long weekend and went on a trip to New York City with my son and friend. I surprised him with tickets to a My Chemical Romance concert at Madison Square Garden. He was soooo happy. I decided I wanted to taste a famed cupcake from the Magnolia Bakery. This is a small storefront on Bleeker street in Greenwich Village. On the day we ventured out it was very rainy but found the bakery and each picked a cupcake from the self serve available. They were very yummy and brightened our day.

When ever in NYC make an effort to stop at the Magnolia Bakery. They also have the cutest t-shirts that say "Cupcakes Make You Happy" on the front and the bakery decal on the back. I got on in chocolate brown!

Oh and I do have Madeline pans so I am so excited to make these for next Tuesday!

Friday, May 2, 2008

TWD- Peanut Butter Torte

This weeks recipe's by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food has chosen…Peanut Butter Torte on pages 282-283. Wow it was an amazing one. Everyone who took a bite loved this over the top torte.

Oh my! This is one recipe to be remembered. The taste of this peanut butter mouse is so good it is hard to put into words. The addition of the cinnamon and coffee adds a wonderful yet subtle dimension to this over the top good torte. I don't know anyone who would not like this dessert.

I made baby cakes instead of a 9" torte and they are so cute and delicious. I gave a few to neighbors and friends and they feel in love. Make this one and make it often.

Peanut Butter Torte
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Update on Polenta Cake

I just wanted to add a photo of my cut cake and comment on the flavor. I added thyme to my cake as Dorie suggested and was very pleased with the results. It compliments the over all honey flavor nicely. It was just enough to add another dimension with over powering or making it savory. I would recommend adding the thyme or even rosemary or lavender to this cake in the future. Also serving it with the sweet creme fraiche and fig jam was really excellent.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TWD- Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

This week we are baking a honey cake picked by Caitlin of Engineer Baker has chosen…Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake. I am excited to taste this cake. The combination of cornmeal and ricotta and figs should be amazing. I added some thyme to is as per Dorie's suggestion and I think it will add a nice dimension. The batter sure tasted good! I have made a similar cake form one of Lynne Rosetta Kasper's cookbooks. It was a great chewy cake. I am taking this one to my book club tonight and will serve it with a fig compote and creme fraiche and hopefully some Earl Grey tea. Sounds good to me! I will post some pictures of the cut cake after my book club tomorrow. I cant wait to see the figs inside the cake!

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.
Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the panm, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jelly Doughnut Muffins

On one cool blog called Taste Spotting I found this recipe there for Jelly Doughnut Muffins. A great one. It only makes 12 muffins so next time I will double the recipe as my family ate them as soon as they came out of the oven.

Jelly Donut Muffins

2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
your favorite fruit jam
sugar for sprinkling over the muffins
1 Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2 Sift the dry ingredients together.
3 Mix in the eggs, oil, butter, milk and vanilla.
4 Grease the muffin pans. Fill the muffin cups almost halfway, carefully place about 1 tsp of jam in the center, and cover with a little more batter.
5 Sprinkle tops with sugar.
6 Bake for about 18 minutes.
7 Cool in pan on rack for about 5 minutes, then turn on out on rack to cool.
Yield: 9 muffins

Monday, April 14, 2008

Foodie blogroll

I have joined The Foodie Blogroll. It is a great site to search for recipes and other blogs! Check it out at The Foodie Blogroll.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

TWD Marshmallows

I was excited when I saw this pick. How cool to make your own marshmallows. I am attending a baby shower this weekend so I decided to make a few batches of different fruit flavors. I made strawberry-rhubarb, raspberry and chocolate. The fruit ones both had a beautiful pink glow. Very subtle but beautiful. I forgot to put the 2T of corn syrup in the first batch but they seem to be fine. I wonder what the benefit or purpose of the corn syrup is, just to sweeten or for elasticity?

Overall a very simple and satisfying recipe. The only part that needs attention is the sugar with the candy thermometer. I sometimes have trouble cleaning the pan but just put water in the pan and boil on the stove for a minute or so and it is clean.

Unflavored gelatin is sorta unappetizing. Weird smell.

Spring in here!

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of my finished cut marshmallows and they were eaten up quickly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Pantry

I just found a new site called The Perfect Pantry:What a Food Writer Keeps in her Fridge, Freezer and Cupboards. I love looking at other peoples pantries. It is like taking a walk at night and looking in peoples windows. But a pantry in very revealing. What kind of flour do they use? Is everything orderly? Do they have a ton of junk food or canned goods? Very interesting.

So for all of you to make your judgements here is my pantry for all the world to see.

This is one of my favorite parts of my kitchen. It used to be a pull down ironing board. I do not iron, ever. So that came out and in its place I put a ton of small shelves to hold my spices and teas. I love this because nothing gets lost. They are at eye level. On the door I keep my calendar and menus and schedule for kids and stuff.

The cabinet next to the spices holds all our breads, cereals, crackers, chips and lunch stuff. It is also were I keep all my oils and vinegars and bottled sauces. This cabinet is much deeper and the shelves are adjustable. This is my main pantry space. It holds all my canned goods, flours, dried fruit, baking supplies, pasta and everything else. It has my pressure cooker and other seldom used cookware on top too. Its not to deep so I don't usually lose stuff.
The last part of my kitchen I would consider my pantry is a tall metal shelving unit next to my stove. It holds cookbooks, my microwave, pancake warmer, trays, a huge bag of rice to big to go some where else. Below the microwave are my pots and pans. In front of the cookbooks are salt and pepper and oil that I use every night to cook.

Monday, April 7, 2008

TWD-The Most Extraordinary Orange Cream Tart

This weeks recipe chosen by, seemed straight forward but challenging when I read it. But I ended up having trouble with a few things. First off, I decided to make the orange cream instead of the lemon cause I was feeling lemoned out. I tried to find blood oranges but couldn't so I ended up with Cara Cara navel. They have a very orange almost red flesh and are very sweet. I loved zesting and rubbing the sugar. I think this is an essential step and really imparts a ton of flavor to your finished tart.

The crust came together nicely and was easy to work with. I decided to make mini tarts and put cut our stars on top so I also made tiny cookies. Dorie even mentions that the dough can go from not done to over done in a flash, but I totally burnt the stars and had no more dough, so I guess the tops will be bare. But I watched the mini tarts until they stated to brown and then removed them to cool. they even came out of the pans easily, which I was worried about cause mini pans do not have removable bottoms. But they are beautiful!
Making the cream was a bit challenging. I read about people having trouble reaching 180 degrees F, so I was worried. But mine came up to temperature pretty quickly, about 12 minutes, and smelled like an Orange Julius! I then strained out the zest and put the cram in a blender to cool. After about 10 or so minutes I started adding butter! My mom was over helping me and was shocked at the amount of butter. But oh the taste! I almost forgot to add the gelatin and put it in last, but i don't think it made a difference. the cream was not super thick when I put it in the fridge to cool, but in the morning it was crazy thick. It was difficult for me to put it in the tarts and make it look nice. I really need those cookies now!
Over all a really amazing dessert. the texture and flavor of the cream is amazing. It would make an over the top filling in a cake too. I will definitely be making this again. And the sweet crust. really great crumb and flavor and easy to put together.
The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
¾ c fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 T butter(10 ½ ounces) unsalted butter,
cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature.
1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough
(see below).
Getting ready:Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (1st choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.
Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk- you whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling- you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point- the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience- depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp may take as long as 10 minutes (note: TWD bakers report average of 20-30 and up to 40 minutes for this step…..and sometimes it never got above 160F but turned out ok!!)
As soon as it reaches 180F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the lender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going- to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to bend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests, and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (the cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator)
When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Perfect Party Cake by Dorie

This is my first post for The Daring Bakers. This months recipe was selected by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts. Check our her blog and check out The Daring Bakers blog to see other peoples results.
WOW! What a cake. I loved every part of this cake. I have always wanted to make this kind of butter cream icing. My favorite bakery from home, Bethel Bakery had icing like this. Who knew it was so easy to make. For this challenge I stayed pretty true to the original. I used lime zest instead of lemon in the batter. I stuck with the raspberry preserves in the layers and also added fresh berries to the top of my cake.

I had a bit of trouble cutting the two cakes in half. I always cut unevenly, as you can see in the layers. It doesn't effect the taste, but visually is unappealling. I have seen people use dental floss and pull through the cake instead of cutting, maybe I will try next time.

I think the next time I make this cake I will just make a vanilla butter cream, or almond and put a custard or pastry cream in the layers. I think toasted almonds on the out side instead of coconut would be great too.

For the Cake:

2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Butter cream:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing:

2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves,
Stirred vigorously or warmed gently till spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2 –inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, and then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk /egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool or 5 minutes, then unmold them and peel off paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
To make the Butter cream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a heat proof mixing bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like a shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the butter cream on medium-speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time, the butter cream may curdle or spate-just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon Juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then add the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white bitter cream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the butte cream and set aside briefly.
To assemble the cake: Using a sharp serrated knife, and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up in a cake plate. Spread it with on third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about a quarter of the butter cream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and butter cream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have butter cream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on the top of the cake and uses the remaining butter cream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting gently all over the sides and top.
Taken from:
Baking: From My Home to Yours
Page 250-252 by Dorie Greenspan