Monday, February 27, 2006

What To Do With Your Mushy Cake

1. slice cake no thicker than 0.5 inches thick

2. toast in toaster oven at about 400 degrees (if your toast function is working i'd suggest toasting at the med-dark setting)

3. meanwhile, fry up a couple of eggs to your liking

4. if you didn't leave your pork maple breakfast sausage at your friend's house, cook some of them up too

5. plate up everything all nice and pretty

6. take pictures of your breakfast

7. eat said breakfast while uploading your pictures to flickr and your blog. note that the cinnamon has finally landed its jump.

8. thank zetta copiously for the idea of eating your hummingbird poundcake for breakfast

next time i'm omitting the maple syrup and honey, cutting the recipe in half, and making pancakes with the batter.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Idiot That Would Never Leave

Have you ever had some stranger, possibly someone you are dealing with as their server/barista/cashwrap person who wouldn't shut up, who wouldn't stop talking to you about things you really couldn't give a shit about? That you just wanted to do your job and get them out of your ass as fast as possible, but they wouldn't stop talking?

Yeah well, today that idiot who wouldn't shut up, that was me.

I was foraging for chocolate at the local biosphere (Fred Meyer) and who accosted me in the foyer? Freakin Girl Scouts. It was then that I remembered that I had CASH burning a hole in my pocket. Cash that was begging to be spent on chocolate.

As I eagerly purchased my three boxes of cookies, I began to yammer on and on about my fond memories selling girl scout cookies. The girl scouts I wanted to bond with totally ignored me. The mom shoved the boxes in my hand and politely pretended to be interested. I began to wax poetic about how much I love the damn cookies until the mom interrupted me with, "Well, its a good thing they only come out once a year!" Her gaze flicked about the foyer, looking for more people to tell the girls to accost. Still I stood there, clutching my prizes, money exchanged, no need to be still standing there, and I started talking AGAIN. "I like to buy lots of them and freeze them!" What a dork.

The mom looked at me in surprise, partly because I was still standing there, and mostly because I was still standing there and talking at her, and then I felt compelled to keep talking at her: "You know what's really good," I excitedly exclaimed, "Frozen Thin Mints with lemon sorbet on a hot summer day." I said this all excited, because I had finally figured out that I was being that idiot who never leaves, and I hoped that if I rocked her world with this culinary gem she might be thankful enough to pretend we both didn't know I had overstayed my welcome. "Ooh, I'll have to try that," she placatingly said to me. I'm sure she was frantically trying to get security to come over and take me away by this point. Finally the part of my brain that had been screaming "shut up! go to your car!" at the rest of me broke through the crazy barrier and I scurried off to my car. Like a total idiot.

This is the thing; I HATED selling the fucking cookies door to door. I NEVER sold enough to win the stupid prize or get the badge or whatever. I DREADED girl scout cookie time. It is probably the reason I drank so much when I was 16. All that repressed angst and dread.

As much as I hated selling the stupid cookies, I loved eating them. And I still do.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No Birds Were Harmed In The Baking Of This Cake

Feb 23, 2006
Occasion: None really, just have an urge
Name of Cake: Hummingbird Poundcake (from 3 Bowls)
Constituents: WWPF poundcake sweetened with honey and maple syrup, with applesauce and banana and peaches served with vanilla whipped cream

So I have an urge to bake, and here’s a little reason: circle meeting tonight! There are people in my circle who have dumped sugar from their diet, are looking to stay healthy, and in general love my baking but are kind of happier when I don’t bring stuff around….(evil I am indeed).

So for them, I popped open the 3 Bowls to find an appropriate recipe. And found this!

I am thinking of replacing some of the WWPF with almond flour, just for the sheer hell of it. And, because it would make it even healthier! What the hell is wrong with me?!

I have decided it would behoove me to type up the recipes I am planning on baking for two reaons: 1. I won’t keep trashing my books 2. I can tape the recipe up to the cupboard so it’s easy to find and read whilst baking.

See how smart I can be. I have a post graduate degree. It shows.

trashed baking book

Hmm. Since I am adding a cup of almond flour, I might whip up the eggs to get some more air and help the cake rise a bit. I guess it just depends on how dense I want the cake to be, or how lazy I am feeling.

Well, we just cancelled circle meeting, and now I have this giant poundcake sitting quite nicely on my table. Oh no, I can’t eat it all by myself! At least not in one sitting!

The 3 Bowls cakes are really easy to put together. This sucker came together fast; I even whipped the eggs separately, just like I said I might. I don’t know if it really made any difference. I added an extra tsp of vanilla, and only used 1 tsp of cinnamon because the applesauce had cinnamon in it already.

I picked at it a little bit and it is a dense, heavily textured cake. It isn’t very sweet because I only used a half the sweetener called for (1/2 cup instead of 1 cup). I did this because the applesauce was already sweetened and the canned peaches were in light syrup. Letting the cake be as little sweet as it is really makes the peaches a little kick of sweet and juicy. Kind of nice, actually. I was feeling too lazy to whip up the cream, but now I am thinking something smooth and light and airy and creamy would go well with the grainy, homey, hummingbird poundcake. The banana flavor is really strong too. I bet strawberries instead of peaches would be tasty.

I ate my piece of cake and let me tell you: mush city. What is it with these cakes with all the healthy ingredients--too much moisture! Maybe tomorrow it will have a chance to sort itself out and firm up a bit. So, B- on texture--mushy and grainy all at the same time. Taste, I'd give it a 6.50. It is mostly banana and peach, and you can taste the mineral-ness of the maple syrup, but the cinnamon and vanilla tastes did not land their jumps.

Laziness won out over whipping the cream, and that's okay.

Why are all the "healthy" cakes so darn mushy? Is it
a) the pans--not conducting the heat so well?
b) the oven temp--too high?
c) the baker--too lazy?
d) the recipes--too much moisture? and people like it this mushy? what's wrong with them?

anyhoo. off to bed.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I Am But A Small Peon

I am enjoying this sunny (yet cold) beautiful Saturday afternoon at my favorite coffee shop, Palio, in the heart of my favorite Portland neighborhood, Ladd's Addition. I began my lovely Saturday by bellydancing and then I walked up here, got a cup of my favorite tea (earl grey) and a piece of tasty cake, the Tiramisu Torte, and opened up my email.

Dude. Zetta introduces me to Flickr's Cake Fun photo pool, which is filled with marvelously beautiful yummy photos of really professional looking baked goods, and I think to myself, "I am but a small peon in the world of baking and blogging." I check out the blog of one of the contributors, Chockylit, and not only are her cupcakes AMAZING, her photos perfect, but her writing style is like most of these blogging bakers: nice, clean, serious. I, on the other hand, am crude, raunchy, and barely ever 100% serious. While these bakers are like beautiful white swans I am like the cute but kitschy marshmallow peep that stopped off at the corner bar at 6:30 am for two shots of stoli and a cigarette. "Not baked goods Professor; baked bads."

Which I am kinda proud of. The fancy fancy pro photos and piped icings with fondant decorations are gorgeous, no arguing there, but I like my rustic, comical, frosted with the back of a spoon cakes and my stupid, 13-year-old-boy humor.

I DO admit that I feel a tad green that my baked goods are a lot more amateur and frumpy than these on Cake Fun, and maybe that's why I am sitting here on a lovely sunny day trying to defend myself and my cakes. But really, I am more self-confident and self-assured about my baking abilities than not, and I like being the peep rather than the swan.

And, when it comes down to it, the people I love are the people I bake for, and you kids enjoy my baking, and that's all that matters.

As for my stupid humor, well, I can't help but be who I am. Love me for my cakes, not for who I am!

Palio Dessert and Espresso House
1996 SE Ladd Ave
Portland OR 97214
503 232 9412

Thursday, February 16, 2006

She Done Found Herself A Good One

Yes, yes I did. I done found myself a good man. A very good man. For valentine's day (which we celebrated yesterday) he got me my very own digital camera. Dude! We spent most of the night screwing around with the camera and trying to top each other's perfect cake picture. Who's a good boyfriend? The Stinky is The Best Boyfriend. sigh.

Feb 15, 2006
Occasion: Valentine’s Day!
Name of Cake: For The Love of Quickbreads, and The Love of The Best Man I Know
Constituents: Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting, Peanut Butter Orange Bread with Chocolate Ganache Glaze

pumpkin bread

(2/13) For Valentine’s Day, since I finally have someone to celebrate it with, and he’s someone who LIKES to celebrate it, I thought I’d bake him up a couple of cakes. (And, because I really love him. That’s really the reason. Everything else is just an excuse.)

I say a couple of cakes because when he gave me his list of favorite cakes last month I realized what he really likes are quickbreads. He likes dense, moist cakes that sometimes sneak in vegetables so you think you are being healthy. Of course, WWPF, honey instead of white sugar.

I bought new WWPF.

I decided on pumpkin bread because 1. duh, yummy, and 2. it goes well with cream cheese frosting, which leads us to 3. fuck yeah, yummy!

The other one, the curious peanut butter orange bread, was exactly that: curious. I gotta try it. And glaze it in ganache. I have some sad excuses for ganache in the freezer; I’ll just reheat those.

(2/14) Peanut butter orange bread in the oven. Used WWPF, and ¾ cup honey instead of ½ cup sugar. Honey isn’t as sweet as sugar, so that’s why I used a little more. Honey also has more moisture than sugar so that should really make the bread moist. The batter was tasty, so I have high hopes for the rest of it.

Heh, well. Where is my (nonexistent) digital camera when I need it? This quickbread looks a lot like a dead camel.

10 minutes after the cake came out, the middle sunk like quicksand. As I turned it out of the pan, the cake. completely. fell. apart.

I know why it did; I didn’t want to have to put the extra batter in another pan so I just poured all of the batter into the loaf pan—which filled up the pan to within ½ inch of the top…so a bunch of batter spilled over the side, the bottom burned, all the sides baked, but the middle stayed very….wet.

(I don't know if you can tell from the picture...but the inside is like, totally mushy. Like, undercooked mushy.)

So, when I made the pumpkin bread (1 cup honey, 1 1/3 cup milled cane sugar, WWPF) I anticipated too much batter and prepared the muffin tin and made pumpkin bread muffins…which I burned. But the pumpkin bread looks and smells great. I filled the pan 2/3 full like a normal person would.

And yet again, I made the cream cheese frosting from the recipe I got off the internet, and it is still THE BEST and easiest cream cheese frosting on the planet. Especially after disregarding the note to use AN ENTIRE box of powdered sugar and using ONE CUP sugar (partially light muscovado)…which eliminates the need to thin out the frosting with milk. Good stuff.

And, curious: I defrosted some glaze or ganache I had stashed in the freezer, and of course it looked like it had separated, but when I reheated the stuff it seemed to have come together quite nicely without separating. So I glazed the dead camel; now it looks like it rolled in the mud before it took the stairway to heaven.

(2/16) I would have preferred to have had the orange flavor be more in the background and the peanut butter take more of a center stage. Right now it is the other way around. Maybe less zest, more peanut butter? Or maybe less zest alone would do it.

No complaints about that pumpkin bread with the cream cheese frosting, except that more frosting would have been good.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Happy Birthday, Little Ones

Its been quiet on the cake lady front lately, owing to the fact that I attended two births between Jan 31 and Feb 5....funny, my goal this year was to attend a birth a month, and I start out the year doing two in less than one week. Talk about overachieving.

I've been dealing with this raging sore throat since birth #2 on Sunday. Mild chills and fever on and off. Phlegm in throat getting thicker; today I hocked up some great loogies whilst in the shower. Yeah!

Another doula friend and I were talking about how to predict what kind of laboring mother we would be when the time comes...the grumpy mother, the angry yelling at her husband mother, the crying mother, the quiet (and usually very tense) mother...and what we all aspire to be, the graceful kind of laboring woman who accepts each contraction as it washes over her and lets it open her up smoothly and gently. I have only seen this kind of woman once, but it does give me hope that she really does exist.

And of course, my doula friend says, "How are you when you are sick?"
Me: "Grumpy."
Friend: "Well, there you go."
Me: "Damn!"

Friday, February 03, 2006

Now, Why Wasn't I Invited?

These college guys had a cake party in their dorm and intentionally used to invite all their friends to what sounded like a raging beer party for underage college dorm kids. And needless to say, when the university cops came, there was a loud party happening in the dorm room with all these underage college kids doing shots of...cake.
I guess the kids were protesting against the college administrators and campus police using as a way to plan out their night time raids. Privacy issues and whatnot. I don't care about that as much as I do the cake....