Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Bostini

The Bostini, a deconstructed Boston Cream Pie, is up this week for the Heavenly Cake Bakers. A cupful of a pastry cream-creme anglaise is topped with an orange chiffon cupcake and glazed with a chocolate butter glaze. Can you see why we've all been anticipating this project for weeks?

the bostini

October 31, 2010
Name of Cake: Deconstruction is Delicious
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: vanilla pastry cream-creme anglaise hybrid, orange glow chiffon cupcake, chocolate butter glaze

Although there are three components to this cake and at first look it seems as complicated as the Apple Caramel Charlotte ( least to me), it really comes together fairly easily. As this dessert needs to be enjoyed shortly after being composed, I decided to make a half recipe, which is actually half the cupcakes but 3/4 of the pastry cream and chocolate sauce. Thanks to Rose for all those gram weights--muliplying .75 by a gram measurement is so much easier than figuring out what 3/4 of a 1/2 cup would be.

First up, the orange glow chiffon cupcakes.

I almost regretted making only half the recipe, as the cupcakes were pretty delicious. Like any chiffon cake, the eggs are separated so that the whites can become a fluffy meringue. The yolks are mixed with oil, flour, baking powder, and in this case, orange zest and juice. Rose recommends using a silicone cupcake pan, but I used my regular metal one. I kind of mangled a few cupcakes when turning them out, so I get why silicone would be nice. Luckily my half recipe made 8 and 3/4 cupcakes, so I can pick and choose the good cupcakes for the dessert. The extra cupcakes will be nice with nutella, as I discovered when I ate the 3/4 cupcake last night. Heh.

the bostini

I stored the cupcakes airtight on the counter and saved the rest of the recipe for today.

Today started off as a beautiful sunny Halloween, perfect for the vanilla creme anglaise, or as Marie calls it, the Shazam! Sauce.

the bostini

Now, for future reference, when making 3/4 of this recipe you need to figure out 3/4 of one whole egg. Here's a hint for you, folks: break the egg down into individual components in order to get your 3/4 of an egg. One large egg white weighs 30 grams and one large egg yolk weighs 19 grams, so you'll need 22-23 grams egg white (technically 22.5) and 14 grams yolk.

You'll also need 3/4 of a pinch of salt, but I'll leave that up to you to figure out :)

So this 3/4 recipe actually only made enough for four cups--two 6 oz cups and two 5 oz cups. It was supposed to be enough for six Bostinis, so I don't know if I let the Shazam! get too thick before pouring into the cups. However, when it comes down to it, these are rich and laden with butterfat so maybe four is enough.

the bostini
I would have made all of them in jam jars if I had enough!

About 30 minutes before eating, the cupcakes are placed head first into the cream and the warm chocolate sauce is made. The sauce is simply equal weights chocolate and butter melted together, and stirred until smooth. Just before serving the chocolate sauce is poured over the cupcakes. If there were any cupcake sticking up over the top of the glass, the sauce can be coaxed to run down the side of the cup.

the bostini

Between myself and the Jellos, the Bostini was much enjoyed. I think Cookie liked it the best, but she is creme anglaise's number one fan and would enjoy almost anything it is a part of. In fact, she felt the cake was merely a hindrance to all that delicious Shazam! Sauce and would have preferred not to have it. Cabbage felt the cake was important as it provided some textural interest to the dessert. At first I felt the cake was superflous but soon changed my tune. I like the orange flavor the cake brought to the party, and was surprised to find that it stood up well to the rich chocolate and vanilla sauces. I felt that the Bostini was more of a deconstructed hot fudge sundae than a boston cream pie, but I am happy with it either way.

the bostini

the bostini

Friday, October 29, 2010

FFwD: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

So normally I post all the French Fridays with Dorie stuff on the other blog, but since we baked a cake this week, and this blog is all about the shiznit I bake, I'm cross posting. Enjoy!

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake is a cake which is as delicious as it is easy, which makes it a winner in every sense. Brimming with apples, buttery and custardy, not too sweet and perfect on its own or with a dollop of whipped cream, this cake would be prefect for tea as well as after dinner.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

Dorie encourages using a variety of apples; I chose a honeycrisp, fuji, gala, and I think an empire.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

These are peeled, cored, and cut into cubes. This was the hardest part of the recipe.

Butter is melted and cooled to room temperature. Flour, salt, and baking powder are mixed together and set aside. Two eggs are whisked, sugar is mixed in, the butter is alternated with the flour, and the apples folded in.

It looks a little concerning, as there are more apples than batter. But not to worry.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

Oh, did I mention that this cake has 3 tablespoons of dark rum? That was exciting. I used the rum in which I have been stashing my used vanilla bean pods.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

The cake bakes for almost an hour.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

I had some leftover heavy cream so I whipped that up with a little sugar and some more of that rum. I brought this to work, where I shared it with a couple of friends. It didn't even last 12 hours, we loved this cake so much!

And omigosh! How could I forget? Cookie and I met Dorie when she was in Portland last week promoting her book! She signed my books and was kind enough to let Cookie snap this photo of us. Look how fabulous Dorie is!

me and dorie greenspan!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Angel Food Cake--a coffee version

Hello people. This week's cake is really just the Angel Food Cake Base Recipe--a recipe based on one egg white, for us to multiply to our heart's content depending on the size of our baking pan. I considered going all sorts of crazy with the baking pan option (cupcakes! layer cake! bundt cake!), then settled on the classic and simple angel food cake tube pan, which has a 16 egg white capacity. Marie hoped that we would doctor this cake any way we wanted, and when I woke up this morning to a cold and rainy day, I thought anything with coffee would be just about right. And so that's what I did.

Coffee Angel Food Cake

October 24, 2010
Name of cake: Oregon Winter Angel Food Cake
Occasion: HCB on a dark grey rainy day
Constituents: Angel Food Cake with Coffee

Currently I am waiting for my egg whites to defrost. About four hours ago I pulled out my egg white stash, and even though I have enough egg whites to bake 1.5 angel food cakes, I put approximately eight egg whites back into the freezer for another day. Alas.

Many hours later, the egg whites defrosted and warmed up to basically room temperature. In the meantime, I searched the internet to see how to make a coffee angel food cake. The best recipe I found was by Gale Gand on the Food Network site. Her recipe only calls for 12 egg whites, and I had 15 (450 grams). So this is the crazy math I made up: for a 12 egg cake she calls for 1 tablespoon of instant espresso powder. 1 tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, so I divided 3 by 12 to get the one egg portion, then multiplied by 15, since that's how many eggs I had. That equaled 3.75 teaspoons, which is how much instant espresso I used. I dissolved it in about 3 teaspoons boiling water and covered it until cool.

In The Cake Bible, the Chocolate Lover's Angel Food Cake (which I love) uses the cocoa paste to flavor the cake. Cocoa powder, dissolved in a little bit of boiling water, is thinned with about a cup of beaten egg whites. This chocolate mix is folded back into the rest of the egg whites after the flour is added. I decided to use the same technique with the coffee.

Coffee Angel Food Cake

After the eggs were beat to stiff peaks I took about 1/4 cup and mixed them into the coffee. The dry ingredients were folded into the remaining egg whites and then the lightened coffee mixture. All this is scraped into the tube pan and baked for about 30 minutes.

Things started smelling really delicious and coffee-like pretty soon. After letting the cake cool (and thankfully not fall out of the pan) I sampled a bite. The coffee flavor was present but not too strong. It hadn't tempered the naturally super sweet taste of the angel food cake like I had hoped. The texture of the cake was really moist, bordering on wet, and very light and springy. I opted to use Wondra flour but I am thinking that cake flour would have been better to offset the extra liquid added. Maybe next time I'd add more instant espresso to punch up the flavor and temper the sweetness. But I'm not really complaining. It is making for a really nice breakfast.

Coffee Angel Food Cake

Chocolate Lover's Angel Food Cakes, previously:
Postpartum Promises, 2008
For my cousin and his new baby, 2007

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Many Splendored Quick Bread

I will confess that I was mighty skeptical about this quick bread. I don't find the photo in the book appealing and was put off by all the ingredients. So I am pleased to say that I thought it tastes much better than it looks. And the doulas ate it up in minutes flat.

many splendored quick bread

October 11, 2010
Name of cake: everything quick bread
Occasion: HCB and doula meeting
Constituents: carrot/zucchini/banana/oatmeal quick bread with walnuts

I like zucchini bread, I like banana bread. But zucchini/banana/carrot/oatmeal bread? Cookie thought it sounded good, I wasn't so sure.

However, I was pleased at how easy this bread came together. Mushing a banana, grating carrots and zucchini? Simple. Toasting nuts and rubbing off their skins? No problem.

Surprisingly, the bread was moist and substantial, but I wouldn't call it dense. Call it the magic of baking, I am unsure.

many splendored quick bread

Cookie came over and knit her mother's shawl while I put the baked the quick bread. After letting it cool for about 20 minutes, we tried a slice. Cookie was a little disappointed; she thought it was a little bland. After having that experience with the pumpkin muffins a couple of days earlier, I felt that the bread would probably come into its own once it cooled down. Which it did.

I sliced the loaf and brought it over to the doula meeting. I may not be a doula anymore, but I still like to go to the meetings every once in a while. It is good to see the girls and learn the latest in breastfeeding research or hospital policy. These girls dived into the quick bread as soon as it crossed the threshold (they were hungry) and only crumbs were left at the bottom of the basket. They enjoyed the bread, as did I. However, in the quick bread world I think I'm a traditionalist and would prefer a straight up banana bread, no walnuts necessary.

many splendored quick bread

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is here and it is my favorite time of year. The air is crisp, the days are cool, and change is in the air. I love this time of year. Did I mention that already?

This weather has been goading me into spending more time in the kitchen, especially in the name of quick breads and muffins. It all started last Saturday, when a few of us ex-doulas got together for a weekend brunch.

pumpin muffins
so sad this photo is blurry, but the colors!

October 09, 2010
Name of muffins: It's Fall!
occasion: brunch with the girls
Constituents: pumpkin muffins with pecanss, chocolate chips, and roasted salted pepitas

Last year I went on this weird canned pumpkin buying spree and ended up with about a dozen cans of pumpkin. A few were used for pumpkin pies around Thanksgiving, but as of last weekend I still had four cans left. From last year. It was time to start using them.

I checked out Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan and found a recipe for pumpkin muffins. Perfect for a brunch, simple to make, and almost had everything on hand. The only thing I didn't have was buttermilk, and that is easy to come by. I also didn't have golden raisins, but I had decided to fire those anyway. At the store, I decided chocolate chips would be much more appropriate. Pumpkin and chocolate--delicious! And really, muffins are just an excuse to eat cupcakes for breakfast.

pumpin muffins

My camera battery died after I shot my mise, but there isn't anything unusual about the mixing of this batter or the ingredients, so I think you'll be ok. This is one of those baked goods you can pull off perfectly while still waking up, yawning in your pjs, your first cup of coffee in your hand.

Butter is creamed in the mixer, light brown (aka muscovado) and regular sugar are mixed in until light and smooth. A couple eggs are beat in one at a time, a little vanilla, and the pumpkin and buttermilk. The dry ingredients are mixed in next, the pecans and chocolate chips are folded in, and there you have it--pumpkin muffin batter.

pumpkin muffins

The dry ingredients are the usual suspects of flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and classic go-alongs with pumpkin: cinnamon, grated nutmeg, ginger and allspice. These spices were a nice touch but didn't make the muffins too spicy, which to some would be considered a failing. I thought it was a good balance, but more spice, especially on the dark gray and rainy day we were having, would have been welcome.

pumpkin muffins

The batter after mixing is silky and spongy, and is divided equally amongst 12 cupcake cups. I weighed about 80-85 grams of batter per cup. Dorie suggests raw sunflower seeds sprinkled on top, but I fired them too and used what I had: roasted salted pepitas. It was a great sub; the green seeds contrasted in a very fallish manner with the orange muffins and the crunch and salty bite was a welcome addition.

pumpkin muffins

After about half an hour the muffins were baked and cooling on the rack. Impatient, I broke into one while it was still warm, and the flavors fell flat. This had me a little worried, but once they had cooled down and were at the brunch, all the spices and pumpkin and vanilla and molasses had come out and were playing nicely. These muffins didn't last long and were a sweet and salty satisfying treat. They pair nicely with a mimosa or four, by the way.

pumpkin muffins

Note: Tuesdays With Dorie did these muffins two years ago.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Molten Chocolate Soufffle and Lava Cakes

Back when the gooey-centered individual cake craze was happening, I just couldn't get on board. Why would I get excited about cake that wasn't cooked in the middle? So when I saw Rose had a take on these in her book, I was skeptical. I noticed she had replaced the gooey centers of uncooked batter with melty ganache, and thought they must be much better.

October 10, 2010
Name of Cakes: No raw batter!
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: chocolate souffle cakes with ganache centers

molten lava souffle cakes

Many people who saw the film Julie and Julia fell in love with Meryl Streep's Julia Child and loved her story of learning to cook while living in Paris. Pretty much everybody who saw the movie also then complained about how little they enjoyed the scenes about Julie and her attempts to cook her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Critics complained that the Julie character just wasn't likeable. I have to say that I didn't like the Julie character in the movie so much, but I did love the Julie in the book on which the movie is based. That Julie (the author) seemed a lot like me, especially in her habit of swearing at and about the food, and for throwing major tantrums when she couldn't get something right. It was nice to know that I wasn't the only one to throw a fit when there was (in my case) cake trauma. In my early days of baking there would be cake trauma almost every time, and the f-bombs would be fall like rain. My poor friend Regenia, my first roommate, was present for most of the tantrums, and she learned very quickly to not take them seriously, even when I would slam shit on the counter to punctuate the swearing. I loved reading about Julie's cooking tantrums, and I will always remember when she was trying to cook rice and pitching a fit and her husband walked in, grabbed her by the shoulders, and yelled, "IT'S JUST RICE." I try to remember that when cake trauma rears its ugly head.

In fact, just this morning I was metaphorically grabbing my own shoulders and yelling, "IT'S JUST GANACHE" but I metaphorically punched the self that was saying that and kicked her out of the way.

Those damn ganache balls never got hard--they stayed soft and runny the whole time, even after 20 min in the freezer. Rose warns this could happen if the chocolate is less than 61%. Unless the packaging lied the chocolate I used was 61% so it should have been fine. But it wasn't. And it was a mess. I have never wanted ganache to go [do nasty things to itself] more than I did today at 11 am.

molten lava souffle cakes

The souffle part of the cakes was really quick to prep and fast to mix together. I thought my silicone cupcake cups were 3 oz capacity, same as the silicone brioche molds, but it must be less because I ended up with 11 cupcakes.

The recipe requires the souffles to cool in their molds for half and hour, then turned out onto a lightly greased non stick pan, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least eight hours. To serve, each cake should be reheated in the microwave for about half a minute.

molten lava souffle cakes
by this point in the process i was already so over these things

When a recipe veers off the beaten path into what seems like crazytown, I would like to know why. Alas, there is no why. There is also no microwave in my apartment, so I brought the entire tray to Cookie's house this evening to reheat and try.

molten lava souffle cakes
i know, the photo is poor, but i haven't figured out the best settings for night shots at cookie's house

As you probably have figured out, I didn't care much for these. The cake is very light and spongy, when I wanted something substantial like a butter cake. The ganache centers weren't very gooey--but that is all my own fault for having subpar ganache balls. Cookie didn't like the parts of the cake where there wasn't ganache--too eggy she said. Cabbage enjoyed them so I told them they were all his and I didn't want to see them again. They offered their chocolate-peanut butter ice cream as a trade and the deal was done.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cake

Hello everyone. This post is going to be down and dirty; I've been really busy this past week. I am not complaining, am I just using it as an excuse.

This week's cakes were the Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes--six little ramekins of brioche bread pudding married to a pineapple upside down cake. Very clever little marriage, that, and pretty damn delicious too. However, I couldn't be bothered to make six stupid little cakes, so I made one 8-inch smart cake.

caramelized pineapple pudding cake

October 4, 2010
Name of Cake: Pineapple Bread Pudding
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: brioche bread pudding topped with roasted pineapple and a layer of caramel served with more caramel and creme anglaise on the side

I have to say that I wasn't very excited about this cake all week long. It just seemed too fiddly and not very appetizing. I mostly like my pineapple raw.  I hemmed and hawed during the non-busy beginning of the week about making the brioche. I was looking forward to baking a brioche for the first time, but also nervous. Then I got really busy and didn't have time to bake the brioche, so I bought some. I am simultaneously relieved and bummed. I will try it someday, dangit!

I also misread the recipe so Sunday night when I got started, I didn't factor in the part about soaking the brioche in the creme anglaise for at least two hours. That would have meant making the caramels and roasting the pineapple after midnight, so I left the brioche soaking in the fridge overnight.

Also, creme anglaise is SO easy to make, and I was SO worried it would be difficult.

I woke up this morning determined to have it finished and tasted before I had to leave at noon. It was 8:30--I had plenty of time!

Not really.

Firstly, I decided to go with the 8 inch cake pan instead of the 9 in deep dish pie plate or the 6 inch cake pan. In hindsight the 6 inch pan would have yielded more bread pudding and less pineapple per bite, so I am glad I went with the 8 inch pan, even though the bread cubes were pretty much only layer thick. I was hoping for two layers like in the book's photos. Still, I am glad there is more pineapple to go around, and my little clump I just tried was plenty bread puddinged enough.

Then I made the caramel that goes in the bottom of the pan. Sunday's HCB postings all complained that the caramel didn't melt or release from the cups so I sprayed the cake pan really thoroughly. The caramel is supposed to bake until 310° and be at the light amber stage--which at 310° barely looked light amber--before adding some butter and pouring into the pan. After pouring the resulting caramel into the pan it looked almost white, crystallized on the spot and looked like an ugly white blob. I put the blob in a skillet and re-melted it, also causing the caramel to darken to a nice medium amber and possibly browning the butter as well. Plus, it behaved nicely when I poured it into the cake pan.

caramelized pineapple pudding cake
There's the caramel, in the cake pan in the center of the photo.  So pretty!

Next up, roasting the pineapple. In the above photo, the pineapple is already roasted and cooling down on the cutting board. The skillet in the far left is the remaining caramel sauce from the pineapple roasting. At first, I thought the whole roasting pineapple hoohah was just a gimmick but then I realized that it was necessary since this was an upside-down bread pudding and not an upside-down butter cake in a cast iron skillet. The bread pudding needed to be baked gently in a waterbath, which would never get the pineapple all caramelized and delicious, so here we were doing it beforehand. This morning I was all grumpy about all these extra steps but upon tasting the final dessert I am on board.

After the pineapple is roasted and cooled it was sliced up and placed in the bottom of the pan.

caramelized pineapple pudding cake

The soaked brioche cubes are gently smooshed on top of the pineapples. The leftover creme anglaise, which should be 1/2 cup but in my case was more like 1/3, is heated on the stove until it thickens and set aside for serving. The aforementioned water bath is assembled and the cake is baked for 30 minutes or until 160°.

I am SO GLAD Rose mentions the temp of the final product, because after 30 minutes my cake was nowhere near the proper temperature. I let it go for another 20 minutes when I was about ten deg away from being done, but had to leave. I left it in the oven (that I had turned off) hoping that would help finish baking the cake before it cooled down. I was pretty grumpy about this cake by this point.

Five hours later I came home and without checking the pudding set the oven to 350° and waited until the cake was 160°. At that point, the cake looked set, and there was a little caramel bubbling up through the center, which made me hopeful the caramel disc had 1. melted and 2. would release from the pan.

Which it did, except for the one little blurb of stuck bread you can see in the photo at the top of this post. There was maybe about 15% hard caramel stuck in the pan. Not too bad, considering.

I served myself a little blob from that one spot, drizzled a little of the pineapple caramel and creme anglaise on my plate, and dug in.

caramelized pineapple pudding cake

It was really good. There's something so warming and satisfying about a good bread pudding, and topped with caramelly roasted pineapple was delicious. There's enough custardy bread and chewy fruit for each bite. I do agree with the HCBs who said the dessert was sweeter than a normal Rose dessert. I will let it pass, however, as this is damn delicious. Before I ate it I didn't think I would ever make this again, but now, I think this would be a wonderful break from pie during the holidays.

caramelized pineapple pudding cake

caramelized pineapple pudding cake

Friday, October 01, 2010


This is just a teaser post. I, like 700 other people, have joined the new group French Fridays with Dorie and today is our first French Friday!


In an effort to keep this blog baking centered, I've decided to put all my FFWD posts on my other blog, which required me to resurrect it from the dusty basement of my blogger dashboard. Of course, just to confuse everybody, when FFWD bakes something up (like the upcoming apple cake) I'll do a cross post over here. Why not.

Anyway, I am tickled to see so many HCB are also FFWD people and look forward to checking out the posts of some of the other 700 members!

Find my gougeres over at Everything But The Cake.