Saturday, February 28, 2009
Here is a true confession... I'm really not a girl who goes bonkers for anything chocolate.
It seems somehow appropriate to me that my first challenge as a Daring Baker would contain chocolate. In fact the recipe only has 3 ingredients... chocolate, butter, and eggs. Hmmm that is a challenge!
The result was fudgey and dense. I think this is one of those recipes where you really want to use the best chocolate you can find. I used a combination of ghirardelli bitter and semisweet chocolate. I was not floored by this cake. I have read variations on techniques that might be worth trying like baking it in a water bath but really the whole lack of chocolate enthusiasm has kept me from tinkering with this recipe.
The second part of the challenge was to make ice cream... yep you heard me.. ice cream. Those of you who know me know I work at a company that makes non-dairy ice cream. That means that everyday I am at work I eat ice cream in some stage of creation... EVERYDAY.. I also operate a soft serve machine... then I taste and eat some more... after a full day of mixing, homogenizing, freezing, AND tasting I go home craving things like asparagus or bar- B -qued tofu. weird huh?
So that last paragraph is basically a drawn out excuse of why I did not make any ice cream at home for the challenge. I did, however, make some pretty tasty peanut butter flavored soy ice cream trying out 4 types of peanut butter (the non-salmonella type of pb of course!).
To see some really tasty looking home made ice cream paired with the Valentino cake be sure to check out the less naughty daring bakers blogs!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I want to thank Grace over at A Southern Grace for this awesome recipe. As I looked at her photos and read the description I thought GENIUS! it's like a caramel apple! but in the much preferred cake form! I had some apples laying around and no intention to actually eat them in their natural good for you state, so I got busy with the apple dapple recipe.
It is a really easy, quick to put together recipe.
The results are Phe-NOMenal! I added some sea salt to the tops to get that salty/sweet thang I've been wanting to try and man oh man is this one sassy cupcake!
Here is the Recipe (thanks again Grace!)
Apple Dapple Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil (Try walnut oil if you have it ;) )
1 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups finely chopped apples
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Stir in apples.
Spread the batter in a greased and floured 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes.
For the glaze, combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk in a small saucepan. Cook and stir until bubbly and all of the sugar is dissolved. Cool slightly. Drizzle warm over cake when it has cooled for 5 minutes, so it can seep into the cake and keep it moist and completely irresistible.
I made cupcakes and mini bundt cakes so they took about 15 to 20 minutes.
Friday, February 20, 2009
This is my first challenge as a new member of The Cake Slice Bakers. I joined this group after purchasing the cook book "Sky High : Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes" by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne.
Ive always admired tall, complicated cakes, but never had the courage to tackle one myself. I'm happy to say I have conquered my fear of layered cakes!
This Southern Coconut Cake was a great intro for me. The layers are filled with the frosting so no additional prep needed to make fillings! I halved the recipe to make a 6 inch cake. This cake was so delicious I could have eaten an 8 inch-er!
The batter came together easily and the recipe was straight forward and easy to follow. There is not as much "hand holding" as in Dorie Greenspan's recipes but the directions are clear and I got great results.
As I said in an earlier post I am the custodian of a 50 pound bag of cake flour and I think having that much cake flour has given me an immortal quality to my cake baking... even if I fail, hey, I have 48 more pounds!
So on to the cake description!
This was baked in 3 pans 6" pans. The layers did not rise very much and the tops were a little sticky due to my oven sucking! The little cake discs were nice and level and easy to build with. I bought new cake pans that I love... yep pan love, sort of like gadget envy! They are Parrish magic line cake pans.
This cake was "just like a cake mix cake" to quote one of my tasters. I'm guessing that is high praise? It was really white with a tender crumb. It was not overly sweet.
I thought the cake was lacking some coconut flavor and I would add some coconut extract next time. Yes, there will be a next time my friends!
The frosting gave me problems. It was more like whipped cream. Very tasty. Very airy and soft. I decided to toast some shredded coconut and throw that around for decoration on the top and in between the layers. The coconut added a nice chewyness to a very soft cake.
A big thank you goes out to Gigi and Katie for creating this awesome baking group. You ladies rock! Be sure to check out other members posts of the southern coconut cake at the Cake Slice Bakers.
The recipe can be found here! (Thank you Steph!)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Part II. The Recipe. After trolling around on the internet I found a really delicious "fool proof" recipe for madeleines with almond meal. Okay so the recipe never touted fool proof. I just read the directions and looked at the pictures long enough to believe it could be the recipe I had been searching for. Well everything went well with the measuring and mixing. Madeleines really do come together quickly. I greased and floured my molds and sent the cookies into the heat to do their thing...
Here is the result...
A flat greasy cookie with absolutely no relation to the beautiful cookies which accompanied the recipe on the web site. Well, you can see the shell pattern... No problem! I will just adjust the cooking time for the left over batter and try again! Taa daa!
Now I have a whole batch of undercooked greasy cookies ready for the trash. Looks aside the taste was horrid! Bland and greasy with a chewy toothiness. Not even a sprinkling of powdered sugar could save these.
No Problem, on to Part III.
This time I decided my pans could be the problem. It certainly can't be operator error ;) ... sooo I figured the people who made my madeleine pans must know what they are doing and I used the recipe that came with the pans. This recipe calls for powdered sugar and baking powder, totally not traditional but I wanted picture perfect cookies dang it!
Hey, these look pretty good! Hows the taste you ask? hmm lemony. The texture? Well, let's see (shove a couple more cookies in my mouth). It's light and spongy with a bit of crispyness to the crust. Wow this is so familiar... but, not in a madeleine way. Hey I have an idea! Runs to overflowing baking pan drawer..
If anyone is interested I think I have an excellent recipe for homemade Twinkies!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
My friend A and I decided to have lunch at our local patisserie Sweet Life. Let me tell you this place has it all! The display case goes on for miles making decisions nearly impossible. They have vegan options as well as sweets crammed full of buttery goodness. You can see which side of the baking line I tend to swerve toward... butter all the way!
Anyway, A and I were enjoying our lunch time rendezvous when a couple of ladies came up to us and asked if they could interview us for a college journalism class. Friends, fellow foodies, can you believe the luck! Someone who actually wanted to ask me questions about cakes and pastries but, not only ask the questions... they wanted to hear me talk about baked goods! I was so excited, or was it a sugar rush?, that I agreed to the on camera interview even though I am normally quite the recluse.
My favorite pick is usually the key lime tartlette. It is creamy and sour with a shortbread crust that melts in your mouth. A little too dense for lunch I opted for one of the newer line of savory items.. a jalapeno, pepper jack cheese, corn, and soy sausage quiche. After taking a bite of this I realized I have never made a decent quiche! Even with all the inclusions this quiche was so light and fluffy! How do they do it?
Do any of you have a favorite local pastry shop? Or know of any I should investigate in the Pacific North West?
If you are in the Eugene are I highly recommend Sweet Life.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
It is time for another installment of BYOB (bake your own bread). The master dough recipe from Artisan Bread in 5minutes a Day. I weighed out a pound of refrigorated dough, added some molasses, oats, chopped walnuts, and dried blueberries, mixed in the gooey mess and baked. I really like the versitility of the master recipe. I have made everything from seeded rolls to this fruit loaf. It adapts to any add ins you can dream up! My only difficulty has been the super stickyness of the dough... I just cant get used to the idea of not kneading my dough! Even when I have a sticky mass of dough, hands covered in the stuff, and Im really thinking it will not become edible once baked I am suprised. The results once baked are so consistant! The doughy lump rises up in the oven and the resulting bread is full of light air bubbles and a crispy crust.
If your interested in seeing more Bloggers and Bakers joining the BYOB movement be sure to visit At the Bakers Bench.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
This cake looks so awesome in the Baking from my Home to Yours photograph that I could not wait until an occasion presented itself which would require a cake.
Finally, the occasion of a house warming party for some friends who just purchased their first new home was on my social calendar.
I did a lot of research on food blogs. This recipe has been made by the Daring Bakers and Tuesday's with Dorie. Many bakers blogged about the lack of rise in the layers and I have to admit I had the same issue. The first two 9 inch layers were just way to flat for me to be courageous enough to slice them in half. So the next day I made two more 9 inch layers. This time I really beat the hell out of the batter at the end. I put them into the oven and wondered if this was the trick for the perfect party cake layer. While these did rise a bit more I decided to just add them to the pile and make a full four layer cake. So even with all my research I had similar results.. I used swans down cake flour, buttermilk, and lemon. Maybe the suggestion of AP flour is the way to go?
The cake was moist with a light crumb, pure white, and had a lovely hint of lemon flavor. I opted for strawberry preserves in the middle and left out the butter cream filling. The frosting was a breeze to make. The lemon flavor was weak and I would adjust that to taste if making again. Over all the cake was a big hit at the party and I was glad to see it disappear as the night wore on. I don't think this is a cake I would make again. It was good but with the rising issues I think I will try something else for white cake.
There was some competition for DPPC! The host had sliced up devil dogs (yes the ones in the wrappers) into bite size pieces and inserted toothpicks for a nifty finger food. How can I compete with all those hydrogenated oils and beef fat creamy goodness... I think the party cake held it's own.