Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lazy Bakers: Smitten Kitchen's Mom's Apple Cake

My Mom doesn't have an apple cake recipe that she got from her grandmother, or a magazine from the 60's. She's Philippino, and as far as I know, they don't really do apples so much. Before you start feeling all sad for me, don't worry. She has a KILLER lumpia recipe and the best pancit EVER. I mean, who cares about apple cake when mom's frying her famous lumpia? Nobody, including myself.

But I digress. This month's Lazy Baker's project is a wonderful, fallish, apple cake entitled Mom's Apple Cake. Deb of Smitten Kitchen hoped her mother's apple cake was an old recipe passed down from the Old Country, but alas, it was an old pecipe passed down from her neighbor who got it from a magazine. Oh well.

Somebody's Mom's Apple Cake

October 14, 2008
Name of Cake: Somebody Else's Mom's Apple Cake
Occasion: Lazy Baker's October Project, and a Doula Meeting
Constituents: Cake, with apples!

When I put on my favorite jeans last week I noticed I had to use considerable effort to button them. All this baking has been getting to me, and not how I would like. So when I looked at my calendar and saw "doula meeting" coming up, I knew it was my chance to bake this cake and not eat it all by myself. Hooray for potlucks!

When I went to the store to buy the six apples, I was a little overwhelmed. So many apples! So many varieties I've never heard of before! So I went with my personal favorite, the Honeycrisp. Sweet, slightly tart, juicy, and firm; this is the perfect apple.

Somebody's Mom's Apple Cake

This cake came together pretty easily and without mishap. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose, because I thought with all the moisture the apples were going to put out whole wheat pastry flour would be pretty innocuous. I was little concerned about how little batter there was for what was supposed to look like a big ol' coffee cake, but I forged ahead anyway.

Somebody's Mom's Apple Cake

After baking for about 45 minutes, I pulled this baby out of the oven. Despite my batter concerns, the cake rose well and looked pretty good. It was really, really hard not to not pick all the baked, cinnamony apples off the top. Later, when I turned the cake out, a few chunky apples fell off--and you know, you can't put them back on the cake--so I ate them. And they were delicious. Juicy, baked, cinnamony, sweet, soft apples! I couldn't wait to try this cake, but I had to wait until the next day.

Somebody's Mom's Apple Cake

When we doulas broke into the cake the next day, we found a moist, homey cake studded with chunks of cinnamony apples. It must have hit the spot because there was only a small piece left that I brought home for my roommate (phew!). To be honest, this cake wasn't outrageously amazing, but it was satisfying, good comfort food. This cake belongs with mugs of hot coffee in front of a roaring wood fire on a lazy rainy Sunday with no better place to be.

Somebody's Mom's Apple Cake

Not a bad thing, not at all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Pumpkin Pies, Gluten Free Style

Annmarie called me two weeks ago and said, "I NEED PUMPKIN PIE. NOW."

I tried to entice her with spicy pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting, but her resolution was strong. It had to be pumpkin pie, and she wasn't waiting until Thanksgiving.

Then she said something awesome: "I found GF pre-made pie crusts that come two to a pack. Now you don't have to struggle with pie dough!"

Well all right then! Let's make pie!!

Rose's Pumpkin Pie (GF)

October 11, 2008
Name of pies: Martha and Rose
Occasion: Annmarie Has Need
Constituents: Martha's Spicy Chocolate Pumpkin Pie in a GF Gingersnap Cookie Crust, and Rose's Classic Creamy Pumpkin Pie in a GF Pastry Crust

I got even more excited about this pumpkin pie thing on Saturday morning when I perused my November issue of Martha Stewart (don't hate me, BBC!) and there in full color was a triple chocolate pumpkin pie. Woo-hoo! Let's make pie!!

Martha's Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (GF)

Annmarie came over that evening and we made our shopping list. She was going to make RLB's pumpkin pie, which we have made the last two years running. The first year we made it, we decided it wasn't spicy enough. Rose purposefully scaled back the spices in order for the delicious pumpkiny flavor to shine through, but we missed the spices. So we added them back in.

Annmarie was in charge of RLB's pie, which when you aren't making a freaking pie crust comes together fairly quickly and easily. In terms of spices, she doubled the cinnamon, added cloves, ginger and cardamom. I didn't really document this pie, as it have been documented on this blog before:
So that left me to make Martha's Triple Chocolate Pie.

The triple chocolate comes from the semi-sweet chocolate that gets melted and incorporated into the pumpkin pie filling, the bittersweet chocolate that is melted and brushed over the cookie crust, and the milk chocolate that is drizzled over the top of the pie.

I skipped the milk chocolate drizzle--too lazy.

The recipe calls for a graham cracker crust, but since we were going gluten-free, we chose to do a GF gingersnap cookie crust. Yum!

I constantly forget that GF stuff doesn't absorb liquid like gluten-full things do. So when I mixed the cookie crumbs with the melted butter it shouldn't have been a surprise that it was kind of...greasy. And when I pulled it out of the oven after its prebake, it wasn't too shocking that it had fallen down into a sad little buttery lump in the middle of the pie plate. I crumbled up more cookies and added the crumbs to the plate and re-pressed out the pie shell; the crust held up but it was still really buttery. Note to self: decrease butter for a GF cookie crust.

Martha's Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (GF)

The pie filling came together pretty easily and quickly. The recipe says to bake the pie for about an hour, until the middle is set but still wobbly. After an hour in my oven, the middle was certainly still wobbly, but was it set? The sides looked much more set than the middle, but I decided that an hour bake was going to be good enough, so I pulled it out, let it cool, and refrigerated the pie overnight.

Sunday morning Annmarie came over so that we could sample our pies.

Rose's pie was creamy and delicious. The GF pie crust was flaky and buttery, but a little salty. Annmarie has decided she wants the pie to be even spicier.

Rose's Pumpkin Pie (GF)

Martha's triple chocolate pie was outrageously good. We had it two ways: cold from the refrigerator and later at room temperature. It tasted better at room temperature, had a very creamy texture, and was really spicy and chocolaty. The pumpkin flavor was muted--but it wasn't completely lost. I think the chocolate and the pumpkin were nicely balanced, but what I really loved about this pie was how spicy it was. It reminded me of a chocolate chai, which is spicy chai steamed with milk and cocoa powder--chocolaty, spicy, yet not too sweet.

Martha's and Rose's Pumpin Pies

I think I liked Martha's pie better, only because chocolate and chai spices are one of my most favorite flavor combinations. I like pumpkin pie, and Rose's is deliciously smooth and creamy, but chocolate-chai-pumpkin pie will win me over every time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jeremy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

About a month ago Cookie's husband had a birthday, and I was commissioned to bake him a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Cookie referenced a cake I made for Joelf's birthday way back when the stooges lived in 3 different states and we would spend a weekend together, just the three of us. This particular weekend we met in Seattle right around Joelf's birthday. I made him a little single layer chocolate cake with this awesome cream cheese peanut butter frosting.

(Wow, that cake was from 4 years ago, and the post? That was from my original Cake Journals, before I had even heard of blogging. That was back in my old apartment, where I used to fall asleep in the kitchen in the middle of the night as I baked. I had dial-up internet, and that photo is from a film camera. And now look at me. So grown up!)

I could have just used the same frosting recipe, but after seeing the chocolate peanut butter cake at Smitten Kitchen, I decided to try hers. I tried to persuade Cookie to let me make the peanut butter ganache too, but she refused.

Jeremy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

September 20, 2008
Name of Cake: You Got Your Cream Cheese in My Peanut Butter
Occasion: Jeremy's Birthday
Constituents: two layers chocolate butter cake filled and frosted with cream cheese peanut butter frosting

As you might have guessed, this post is all about the frosting.

It's good frosting, people!

I was most interested in Smitten Kitchen's frosting since the one I used 4 years ago wasn't cream cheesy enough. Plus, that recipe called for all sorts of weird things, like more peanut oil. I still don't understand that. (I didn't mention it in the post, but I didn't add the oil. I mean, seriously.)

I thought about using Deb's posted cake recipe too, but decided against it since she said the cake was so intense. I interpreted that as really rich and sweet, so I opted for RLB's less sweet but seriously satisfying All American Chocolate Butter Cake. I didn't want to kill us with richly sweet, or even sweetly rich desserts.

Jeremy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Where Joelf's frosting from 4 years ago wasn't cream cheesy enough, this frosting was way too cream cheesy and not peanut buttery enough. So that's why I kept adding more peanut butter--totaling about 1.25 cups. Adding all that extra peanut butter changed the consistency of the frosting from creamy to kind of spongy looking.

The frosting was still rich and intense, even though I decreased the sugar to 4 cups. It was probably all that extra peanut butter I added.

The birthday boy munched on that cake for over a week, I think. The stooges, Jeremy, and my parents all helped eat the cake when we first broke into it, but he sure took his time savoring the other half. Good for him.

Happy birthday Jeremy!

Jeremy's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Monday, October 06, 2008

rennovations

so...i did some remodeling over here at eat my cake, as you can obviously see. i was ready for a change, and wanted a cleaner look. and i widened the margins so the photos could be a bit bigger. hope you like it.
ECL