Monday, July 18, 2016

The Baking Bible: Cream Cheese Butter Cake

This is a fantastic cake. It is my favorite kind of cake: tender and light in texture with a dense crumb. Rose says it is similar to a pound cake, with butter and sour cream, with the addition of cream cheese. It works so well in Rose's pie crust that she thought it might be good in a cake. Bingo!

The frosting is actually the Pierre Herme lemon curd: where instead of cooking the butter with the lemon and eggs, the butter is left cold and emulsified into the mix afterwards. It results in a very creamy and thick lemon curd which Rose uses as a frosting. It is also delicious in a tart or on toast, by the way.

The recipe is supposed to use only a portion of the lemon cream to frost, but I used it all. Then I decided it overpowered the cake which makes me sad, because I could eat this cake plain all day long. And probably will, sometime in the future!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Baking Bible: Perfect (Savory) Cream Puffs

Technically these, as the name implies, are supposed to be served with a savory filling. There's even a recipe for what I bet is a lovely "faux gras" made with chicken livers and whatnot. However I am not a fan of liver and I told Mark if he wanted to make the faux gras he was welcome to, and that it would be probably the best chicken liver pate he's ever had. He agreed, took a look at the recipe, and decided it was too much work. Ah well. So no savory cream puffs for us.

We did make the traditional sweet cream puff with vanilla ice cream and homemade hot fudge (the Chocolate Snowball Hot Fudge Sauce from Rose's Heavenly Bakes). Then we invited some friends over and we had a lovely snack in the backyard.

The only pâte à choux pastry I've made are gougeres which are cream puffs with cheese and they were simple and delicious. So I knew these would be fairly simple to make, too. There's a lot of slow cooling down that has to be done so there is a time factor, but otherwise making choux is pretty quick and simple. I made mine a bit bigger since we needed them to be able to hold about a tablespoon of ice cream each.

These were the most light and crisp choux pastry I have ever tasted and I am thrilled they were made by me! Everybody was very taken with them as well, and it was wonderful to catch up with some old friends.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Baking Bible: Cherry Sweetie Pie

A sweet cherry pie with a pretty lattice top, this was an overall winner in my house. I also think this is the best version of Rose's Tender and Flaky Pie Crust I've made to date!

It is a fairly simple and straight forward pie, which is also a plus. The cherries are pitted, but you could also use frozen cherries which I assume would already be pitted. Rose says if the cherries are on the large side to cut them in half with scissors. She considers large to be 1 inch or more, but honestly I've never seen a fresh sweet cherry that isn't about 1 inch in size. Rose picked up a tip from Cook's Illustrated to add a couple of pureed fresh plums to give the pie a bit of tartness. All the fruit is then macerated in some sugar and cornstarch and cooked until the juices thicken. After this mixture cools down lemon zest and vanilla extract are stirred in and poured into the waiting pie crust.

The pie crust is the usual Tender and Flaky crust which employs cream cheese and butter and heavy cream and apple cider vinegar as the secret weapons. I've found a sort of hybrid food processor-by hand mixing technique that seems to work for me. Anyhoots the top crust is a lattice top which is just so darn pretty and appealing. I dabbed a bit of watered down cream on the top and sprinkled on some sanding sugar for sparkles and crunch. Now I'm itching to buy a pastry crimper for even prettier lattice tops.

Then the pie gets baked atop a hot baking stone; mine took a little more than the required time to finish. It is supposed to cool for 3 hours but I think we broke into it after only a couple of hours. I whipped up the leftover heavy cream from the Rum Raisin French Toast to serve alongside, although vanilla ice cream would be a better match.

a bit too browned, but don't let that bother you
 The crust shattered in a wonderfully flaky way, and the cherry filling was still warm and a bit runny. Mark appreciated that the cherries were still toothsome and that the filing wasn't sickly sweet. It is quite a yummy filling and the lemon zest complements the cherries so well. However what I love most about this pie is the pie crust! Maybe I'm finally getting the hang of pie dough? That would be exciting!

snowy owl took a bath in my mixing bowl while the pie baked