Wednesday, May 30, 2007

ECL's Turn

I turned 34 on Sunday.

courtesy of the london grill

I decided to invite some of my friends to an extravagant Sunday brunch at The Benson Hotel. The restaurant in the basement of the hotel (The London Grill) does the big brunch--you know, with the omlette station, the roast beef carving station, the crab legs and seafood ice mountain, the cheese, oh the cheese, the veal, lamb, waffles, potatoes, eggs benedict, you get it.

Oh yeah, and there is this seriously serious dessert island.

I debated on whether or not I would bake a cake for myself, for many reasons. Let me elucidate:

1. I always regret baking my own cake. I spend my entire birthday frantically baking up the damn cake and not having much fun.
2. I am always stressed about the cake sucking ass.
3. I vowed never to bake my own birthday cake again.
4. And this time, there was this seriously serious dessert island. Would we need cake?

And the decision really came down to this:
Would I really be okay if I didn't have leftover birthday cake for breakfast next week?

The answer was simple. I needed birthday cake for breakfast.

May 27, 2007
Name of Cake: MINE
Occasion: The Most Important Day Of The Year
Constituents: Gluten-Freekin Tiramisu!!!

This tiramisu was different than my old roomie's for several reasons:

1. I used imported mascarpone.
2. I had to buy my own marsala wine.
3. I used different flours for the Biscuit de Savoie.

Allow me to break it down further:

Last time, I used the end of the Gluten-Free ECL Mishap Mix and a lot of white rice flour. I omitted the cornstarch form the original recipe since I had an unknown amount of cornstarch in the mishap mix.

This time, I used an equivalent weight of Proper GF Mix and added an equal amount of additional white rice flour instead of cornstarch.

I didn't bother to note if I did add in Xanthan Gum last time, and if so, how much. I almost forgot to add it this time, but at the very end, right before pouring the batter into the pan, I hastily added 3 tsp of Xanthan Gum.

Everything else about the cake was the same as last time.

Oh yeah, and this time, I made the zabaglione with the proper amount of ingredients.

proper zabaglione

Joelf was an excellent sous chef. Thanks to him, we got this cake baked up and the filling prepared by 2 am. Or was it 3 am. Can't remember now.

The next morning, the day of my birth, I stumbled bleary eyed out of bed several hours earlier than I would have liked (brunch reservations were at 10 am) and while I waited for hot water I soaked the bottom layer of cake in the coffee and spread about half of the creamy creaminess over. Then I noticed that I used about 3/4 of the coffee for the bottom layer. What was I supposed to use for the top layer? Oops.


I took a shower, and as I was getting out Joelf came upstairs. I told him my issue. He said he could make more coffee syrup no problem.

I said yay and did my hair.

Then I finished the cake, and liberally covered the top in cocoa powder. That was awesome.

birthday tiramisu

This cake could have used an overnight in the refrigerator, but oh well. We brought it down to The Benson and placed it on the side table, in the fancy pantsy private room I had reserved. We were 30 minutes late, and the first to arrive. Nice.

Brunch was decadent, as is everything in life worth doing. We had four good hours of eating ahead of us, so we paced ourselves accordingly. There was a lot of champagne, crab legs, boobies and cake talk (don't ask), and good times.


Some of us dabbled in the dessert island (creme brulee not so good, chocolate mousse tasty) and then the servatron (one part nice to two parts grumpy) came in with a pretty little slice of german chocolate cake with a candle! Everybody sang to me, which was sweet. Then we pulled the candle off the cake and shoved it in the tiramisu and took pictures!

ECL And Her Cake

I thought the cake was gritty--THAT IS BAD.

But the creamy creaminess was really good. And my friends liked my tiramisu better than the dessert island.

Good friends indeed.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lovely Man

(5/10) The Stinky is taking a break from being a rockstar on the East coast and today is his birthday. I'll be picking him up from the airport later tonight and I thought I'd surprise him with a little birthday cake.

chocolate bread cakelette

May 10, 2007
Name of cake: Stinky's Birthday Cakeys
Occasion: Stinky Is Coming To See Me In The Middle Of The Night Again
Constituents: RLB's Chocolate Bread

He likes his cakes to be loaf-like, dense, and sneakily healthy. He likes things like zucchini bread and carrot cake. I am making him RLB's chocolate bread with whole wheat pastry flour and golden baker's sugar, and let me tell you the batter smelled AWESOME--like vanilla, deep chocolate, and the flowery molasses smell that only golden baker's sugar gives.

I made this cake once before for the Stinky, but that time my WWPF was rancid. I now keep my WWPF in the freezer.

I decided to bake up the chocolate bread in the flower cakelette pan Cookie gave me for Christmas many years ago. I have a fantasy of bringing a little cakelette to the airport with a little candle, and when he comes out of the security area he can see me, looking all fabulous and sweet holding a little chocolate cake with a lighted candle waiting to greet him. Nice fantasy, huh?

We haven't seen each other since October; this past winter has been quite a rollercoaster of emotions: confusion, longing, anger, lonliness, love and pain. In a nutshell. But we can't seem to shake each other, for what it's worth, and we are looking forward to seeing each other and spending some time together.

The cake mixed up fine, with no real problems. Well, the butter got a little melty instead of soft--it was sitting on top of the warm stove--but it wasn't too bad and I wasn't worried. The batter was lovely, as I have mentioned, and I ate about 1/2 a cup of it while the cakelettes baked.

I didn't set the timer--no idea why--so I just wandered over there when I could start to smell them. They weren't quite done yet, so I came back in a little bit and they were overdone a bit. Not too bad though, I wasn't worried, but as they cooled the middles sunk! Say what?

I have no idea why. The baking powder is a month old, the ingredients were at room temperature, the oven temperature is fairly accurate. WWPF has never affected a cake I've baked like this. Golden Baker's Sugar has never made a cake fall.

My roommate looked at them and she said, "I would think they were gluten-free!"

But they're not! What happened?

I guess I'll have to eat one before I go to the airport tonight.

the cakelettes

(5/12) I did eat one, and they were a little dense and undercooked in the middle. Maybe the oven temperature was too high and I didn't notice...they still tasted awesome.

I didn't bring a cakelette into the airport with me, but I did have it waiting in the car with a candle and a match. We didn't light it then, actually, we didn't light it until we got to Olympia on Friday evening. Then, with his two best friends, we lit his birthday cakelette and sang him Happy Birthday.

happy birthday stinky!

It is wonderful to see him. I can tell he's different somehow--he summed it up by exclaiming as we drove through downtown Olmypia--"Nothing's really changed--I recognise all these people! It's only been 6 months but I feel like I've lived two years in that time." Its true--it shows in his face, his demeanor, and his energy. However we fell into each other like no time had passed, and it is good. It feels right. It feels like, in a way, all the puzzle pieces are put back in the puzzle again and the picture is complete.

Happy birthday, Stinky Monkeypuzzle. May this birthday year be filled with love, music, and new adventures.

ice cream

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pick Me Up, Pick Me Up!

The ex roommate had her birthday last weekend, and she decided to bake two gluten free, dairy free, sugar free cakes. The other cake, she decided, would be tiramisu.

My roommate and I decided to help her out by making the tiramisu cake. We were very invested in making sure that cake came out right.

All three of us, for different reasons, were very very tired; we really needed that Pick Me Up to come out right.

happy birthday roomie!

April 28, 2007
Name of cake: Gluten-Freekin Tiramisu!!
Occasion: My Ex-Roommate's Birthday Party
Constituents: two layers gluten free Biscuit de Savoie soaked in espresso and layered with the mascarpone-whipped cream-marsala-good times.

I was SOOO tired when we were going to bake this cake. Actually, I wasn't tired, I was OMG EXHAUSTED.

Annmarie, who made the decision to break her Mediclear cleanse for the tiramisu, said she would make the creamy lovely filling, if I could just get off the couch long enough to bake up the ladyfingers.

My initial plan was to bake ladyfingers, then the plan changed to baking the ladyfingers in one big sheet, then the plan changed to baking a biscuit (European-type sponge cake, you heathens) in one big sheet.

The reason I changed to a biscuit was that, according to the RLB, the ladyfingers (Biscuit a la Culliere for you non heathens) have more flour to help them hold their shape. Since I wasn't piping and I was baking gluten free, I thought the biscuit with less flour would be best.

So Biscuit de Savoie it was. And luckily, one recipe makes enough for two 9x13 layers.

the gf sponge cake

This Biscuit seems perfectly made for tiramisu. In RLB's words,
"Biscuit de Savoie is also a European sponge-type cake which, like American sponge, contains no butter or oil but a lot more egg, making it lighter, drier, and tougher until well soaked with syrup. Because it contains no added fat, it is lighter and can absorb more syrup than a genoise without losing its delicate texture."
Sounds perfect for soaking in espresso and sandwiching between creamy cheesy winey goodness.

Also, RLB says this is a perfect cake for alternative flours, and this GF cake came out perfectly.

There was cake trauma, of course. Annmarie started out with RLB's recipe for a tiramisu torte from the Pie and Pastry Bible. Eventually, I pointed out that her recipe wouldn't make enough filling for a 9x13 pan--it would make enough for an 8 inch torte.

She didn't like hearing that.

I googled tiramisu recipes and found a good one that was seemed similar to RLB's, except big enough.

The problem was, we had already made the zabaglione part of the filling--warming and beating the egg yolks with the sugar and marsala until it thickens. And we had used RLB's torte proportions.

Interestingly, RLB's recipe calls for the same amount of egg yolk. So we didn't need to make more zabaglione, really, we just needed to add more sugar and marsala. We decided to heat the marsala and the sugar together until the sugar dissolved and then add all that later on when we beat the cheese and zabaglione together.

Which kind of worked, except that it looked curdled and chunky instead of creamy.

tiramisu from the side

Annmarie kind of freaked out.

Which is usually what I do, but I was too tired to muster up the energy.

After beating the crap out of the mascarpone-zabaglione mix for awhile it looked better and we whipped the cream and folded everything together. It still never got creamy and luscious which had Annmarie mad, but I told her that once we got it all layered up nobody would know that it wasn't perfectly creamy. She finally agreed and we moved on, cut the biscuit in half, assembled the cake, and let it relax in the refrigerator.

We covered it in foil and unfortunately it stuck to the top of the cake and pulled off some of the creamy goodness. Also, Regenia almost dropped the cake when she was trying to put it on the table. Luckily, I didn't see that. I would have freaked out.

the gf tiramisu

It was really good. Really good. It was even better 24 hours later when all the flavors finally sorted themselves out.

I highly recommend making it the day before.

The tiramisu did its job--we were sufficiently perked up to go out banghra dancing for a couple of hours. Woot-woot!