Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Baking Bible: White Christmas Peppermint Cake

I brought this cake to a holiday party and it was the perfect cake to share with friends. Not just because it was a wonderfully tall and festive cake, but also because it was delicious. The peppermint flavor and the crushed candy canes really made it right for the wintertime.

The cake is a typical Rose butter cake, employing the two-stage method which whips out a cake in minutes. I ran out of cake flour after 100 grams, so the last two thirds of the cake batter was bleached all-purpose flour. I was nervous this would mess up the cake as it has in the past. The cakes did dip in the center but miraculously the cakes were still light and tender in texture.

The recipe makes two 9 in cake layers which are cut in half to make four layers. Festive!

The filling and frosting is the white chocolate buttercream, which starts with making a white chocolate custard. It then needs to cool down enough for it to incorporate with the whipped butter. This took ALL MORNING, which I did not like. I am just way too impatient these days. However, the frosting is really yummy. I wanted to use my super fancy El Rey Icoa White Chocolate but I didn't order it soon enough for the party. So even with basic Whole Foods white chocolate this frosting was a hit.

In between each layer of cake there's a layer of white chocolate buttercream and crushed peppermint candy canes, with a liberal sprinkling of candy canes on top as well. The candy canes soften a bit in the frosting which makes them incorporate into the cake nicely. I was worried they'd be too crunchy or stick in the teeth like candy canes often do.

This definitely goes on the make again list. I bet the all-vanilla variation would make a wonderful and soft white cake.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Baking Bible: Renee' Fleming Golden Chiffon Cake

This is a light, moist and lemony chiffon cake and the lemon curd whipped cream is the bomb. I was so happy this was a simpler project, without 5,000 steps or the need of a piping bag. Hooray!

This is another one of Rose's chiffon cakes baked as a single round layer, instead of in a traditional tube pan. Baked this way, the chiffon cake gives a graceful dip which is the perfect bowl for a ton of whipped cream. I cheated and used store bought lemon curd. That is probably why I feel this is a quick and simple recipe.

Sadly I did not notice the recipe calls for UNbleached all purpose flour, and Rose even makes a note that says the unbleached flour is necessary to keep the cake from sinking too much. My cake wasn't very tall, it had sunk already before I pulled it from the oven, and it baked unevenly. Check it out:

Ah well. Honestly, what really matters is how it tastes, and if we like it. Everybody here loves it, including the toddler, and despite being a bit dense, the cake still has a light and airy mouthfeel. (Are we still using that word?)  

A winner all around. Easy and quick, yummy and simple.

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Baking Bible: Posh Pie

A chocolate-chocolate-chocolate cream pie, especially for those who love chocolate. I love how the lacquer glaze, imperfect as mine is, catches the orange of the pumpkin behind it.

I had the same problems with this Posh Pie as I did with the test bake. Let me count the ways:

1. This recipe has you make your own chocolate wafers for the cookie crust. The cookie dough is super sticky and difficult to work with. Here's my cookie "squares," just transferred to the cookie sheet and ready to bake. I took a photo, just because they look like such a mess.

2. Despite being a quite buttery mix of cookie crumbs and butter, the crust stuck unmercifully to my glass pie plate. We needed a deep dish plate and I panicked when I read that, as I couldn't find my deep dish pie plate for my failed Pumpkin Pecan Pie. So I dug around in the garage and found it! But alas, THE STICKING.

3. I over cooled the bavarian cream, so that when I and the cream were ready to move to the next step, the bavarian cream wasn't falling in ribbons, it was a big congealed puddle. I had to use a balloon whisk to incorporate the meringue and whipped cream in order to try and get the finished pie filling to be smooth. There were little lumps, but in the end I didn't notice any lumpiness.

4. Perhaps the over cooling led to the texture being a little less creamy and a bit like cream jello. That bummed me out as I really liked the flavor.

5. By the time the cookies were baked and crumbled and pressed into the pan and the cream made and the meringue and whipped cream folded in and the pie refrigerated overnight, I was DONE. Technically I had to make the lacquer glaze and then a chocolate whip cream but there was no way that was going to happen. Thankfully I had a little bit of lacquer glaze in the freezer, just barely enough to glaze the top of the pie. None left for the whipped cream, but I remember wanting a non-chocolate element when I made the test pie.

I like it but I don't love it. It's a yummy pie I just feel that it is a lot of work.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Baking Bible: Pumpkin Pecan Pie

I'm going to give myself an E for effort on this one. I didn't have the correct deep dish pie plate, in fact I couldn't even find my incorrect pie plate. So after long debate with my visitng mom I decided to use a cake pan. I suspected it wouldn't work and guess what? It didn't work.

The pie crust sunk down into the pecan layer, which gets baked first and is quite a thin layer. I pushed up the par-baked crust as best I could after the pecan layer was baked but I could only nudge it up an inch or so. So I poured in as much pumpkin layer as I could, but there was so much left over.

I didn't think much of the idea of putting a pumpkin pie layer on top of a pecan pie layer, but what I ended up with is really delicious. It would probably be even better with a thicker layer of pumpkin like it should have. I really like the cinnamon and ginger spices paired with the pecan pie. However this pie is crying out for bourbon! Next time. For now, a generous dollop of whipped cream will do.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Baking Bibile: Butter Spritz Cookies

This is preview of what your holiday cookie baking could look like. If, that is, you have a holiday cookie baking tradition.

Here are Rose's Spritz Butter Cookies, clumsily piped out by me and sprinkled very heavily by me and the toddler. (Mostly me.)

They whizz up in the food processor super quickly. The trick of this particular recipe is the substitution of cornstarch for some of the flour which Rose says makes them a bit more light and delicate. I didn't have any cornstarch left and I thought about subbing tapioca starch but then chickened out and just replaced the flour the cornstarch replaced.

I got annoyed with how long it took for me to clumsily pipe out the cookies, and you can bet the toddler got annoyed too. Having a toddler has highlighted just how impatient I can get. These cookies bore the brunt of our annoyance. Sorry, cookies.

They are good. The slight almondy taste (from the ground almonds and almond extract) are nice. Perhaps the heavily sprinkled sprinkles are marring the delicate taste because I am putting these into the "good but not great category."


Monday, November 09, 2015

The Baking Bible: Sugar Rose Brioche

This is a beautiful looking loaf of bread, and as it is a brioche, it is really delicious too. It also looks really complicated, but really it is not. My kind of project.

I am really loving how brioche can fit into a busy life. The starter and flour blanket can be made in one day and put in the refrigerator overnight. Next day the cold dough can go straight into the mixer to knead and incorporate the eggs and butter. Then a rise, a rest, a degas, another rest, then a couple business letter turns, and then the dough can go hang out in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Two days later, the brioche gets rolled out to a big circle. The brioche was amazingly easy to roll out. My dough wasn't sticky at all, which brioche is supposed to be. Maybe all that time in the refrigerator helped with that?

Cinnamon and sugar are spread out over the rolled out dough and then everything is rolled up, jelly roll style. Then comes the big design ta-da. The roll is cut down the middle lengthwise, the two sides are twisted together, cut sides up. This twist then gets coiled into a spiral which, when baked, looks super complicated and very appealing.

cross section
 This is a very easy bread to snack on. Sweet soft bread, enriched with eggs and butter, and a hit of cinnamon. A winner!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Baking Bible: Marble in Reverse Cake

I've been looking forward to this cake since I made my first reverse marble during the test bake. I love, love, LOVE, Rose's sour cream bundt cakes. Dense, rich, melt-in-your-mouth cakey goodness.

Here's my test bake:

Now do you understand why I've been eagerly waiting to bake it again?

Sadly, I discovered that this isn't a toddler-friendly cake making experience. The batter must be layered in the pan in a specific way with specific amounts, as quick as possible. What this means is that the toddler decided he needed me to pick him up right as I started layering batter into the pan. So I layered the batter into the pan with a crying child standing next to me. Oh well, not all baking experiences will be fun!

Surprisingly, the marbling came out pretty good.

And it tastes fantastic.

The chocolate glaze is actually more white chocolate than dark chocolate, and somehow tastes like a mellow milk chocolate. I tried to wait until it was cool enough but I couldn't. So the glaze doesn't lok that wonderful. But it is yummy.

How many more ways can I say I love this cake? Here's a quote from my test bake:
"Oh how I love a sour cream bundt. Dense, moist, tight tender crumb, with a little tang. This cake is everything I love about cake. I was worried the ganache glaze would be too much or overpower everything but it didn't. All that white chocolate in the glaze keeps it from being too rich or heavy. Who knew?"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Baking Bible: White Chocolate Club Med Bread

I guess this is an actual thing at Club Med--guests get a loaf of chocolate bread and apparently the white chocolate is quite popular. I don't know who thought to add white chocolate chips or chunks to white bread, but by golly it is pretty damn good.

Rose's recipe uses her basic white sandwich loaf which is an easy and straightforward bread to make. It needs to knead for almost 10 minutes in the KitchenAid which made my machine dance across the counter--and got the child asking to turn it off only one minute into mixing.

I have to give props to this bread being a bit foolproof. After the initial rise and a degassing, the bread goes into the refrigerator to firm up for shaping--just 30 minutes to an hour. Well my bread hung out for three hours and almost doubled again. Yikes!

A portion of the dough is set aside, and the rest is rolled out to a rectangle and the white chocolate chunks are scattered over. This gets rolled up and then--smart more on Rose's part--the saved portion of dough gets rolled out and then wrapped around the chocolate-containing log. This is to contain the white chocolate so that it doesn't burn unattractively whilst baking.

As you can see from my photos I didn't pinch the seam well enough and the plain bread overcoat split open at the seams during the bake. Also, I seem to have not put the seam down at the bottom of the pan but rather somewhere on the side near the top. Oops! At least now you can see how the white chocolate burns, and how funky it would look if it were the whole loaf.

There are large holes in the bread where the white chocolate was, but maybe I didn't roll it up tight enough? Honestly it doesn't matter to any of us, as we like the bread as it. It is soft, and slightly sweet but not overly so (thanks to good quality white chocolate). It needs neither butter nor jam nor anything, not even a toasting. It just needs a nice cup of tea and permission to be devoured in 24 hours.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Baking Bible: Fudgy Pudgy Brownie Tart

This is a really rich and fudgy brownie encased in a chocolate cookie shell. The original brownie had nuts but we opted for bourbon soaked dried sour cherries. Boozy cherries are really yummy. I think nuts would have been a nice break in texture and done a bit to temper the richness of the chocolate, but this was Mark's birthday cake and he does not believe in brownies with nuts. Generally speaking I don't, either. We think that next time doing half boozy cherries and half toasted chopped walnuts might be good.

The unfortunately named fudgy pudgy brownie recipe was a sort of footnote in Rose's Heavenly Cakes, as it was a component of the groom's cake in the wedding cakes chapter. This brownie is a more classic brownie recipe than the Barcelona Brownie which served as the brownie base for the fancy pantsy three layer brownies we did previously. I think I may prefer this brownie as it is easier to make and a bit more sturdy. I don't know. I remember feeling like the Barcelona Brownie was the brownie of my dreams the first time I made that one, so who knows.

The brownie tart starts with making the tart crust, which is a super easy thing to do. I even attempted a little video of the child and I processing the dough. It features the learning tower that I just bought off Craigslist thanks to Vicki's suggestion. This thing is great!

EDITED TO ADD: the video upload won't work! So here's a still photo instead. Sorry.

Anyways the dough gets kneaded together and unlike regular pie dough this time all the butter needs to be incorporated or else it will melt and form holes in the crust during baking. I had to do a bit more kneading to get that to happen. Then it's off for a chill and rest, then a roll out, then a pan fitting, then another chill and rest. Then you can put your brownie batter in it.

Then the bake happens and the cool down happens and the chiling of the baked tart happens then finally there is the eating. Mark is really happy he got a rich and chocolaty birthday cake, and is happy it is a bit unusual. I love it, but it sure is rich, have I mentioned that yet?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Baking Bible: Banana Split Chiffon Cake

A lovely, light, fluffy banana chiffon. It seems a food chemistry miracle to take something so wet and fibrous as a banana and create such a wonderful chiffon cake.

This was a fun cake to make with the child, as you need to first puree the banana and egg yolks in the food processor. Then that stuff is mixed into the dry ingredients in the KA mixer. Then you need to make a meringue with the egg whites, which I decided to do with the hand mixer. Yet another kitchen appliance!

 I set them all up on the child's play table (which is right by the kitchen island and currently also is a stand for the cat scratcher) so he could help with the mixing and processing. He thought it was pretty cool, although his help was really just him watching, and now he asks everyday if we can use the mixer. And he now talks about stiff peaks :)  

Sadly, the chiffon cake stayed upside in the pan until the next morning, so the crust stuck in the pan. And the top got a little gooey. The cake is still yummy.  

Here's an inside shot. This is the child's piece. Mark and I decided to go whole hog.

Rose suggests the cake is sublime when served with both the chocolate drizzle glaze that accompanies this recipe AND the caramel sauce from a different recipe AND strawberry ice cream AND whipped cream AND chopped toasted walnuts. And yep, we did just that.

It is a bit much, and looks messy, but it was fun. It would make a great birthday cake, to serve the cake with all the fixings

As the child demonstrates, the banana chiffon is perfectly delicious plain and eaten with your hands.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Baking Bible: Mud Turtle Pie

This is one of the recipes I tested as a Beta Baker, and back then I called this pie "a pecan pie with chocolate frosting." This version of the Mud Turtle Pie lives up to its name: it is caramelly, nutty, and richly chocolaty.

I don't actually know if this, the final recipe, is any different than the recipe I tested. I'm too tired to go out into the garage and look. However I can say for sure that the filling is a bit looser than my test pie which really evokes the caramelly center of a turtle candy, Rose's inspiration for this pie. Using Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup and light muscovado instead of brown sugar really really help move the filling toward caramel, and will forever and always be my first choices for a pecan pie of any sort.

The pie itself is a thin layer of nuts and goo, with a rich ganache topper. Rose blends dark and white chocolate to create a ganache she calls her "milk chocolate ganache," but this is anything but milk chocolate. Adding good quality white chocolate mellows out the dark chocolate bitterness without throwing in too much sugar, so the ganache does taste a bit like milk chocolate. It works.

There's instructions to make a cute little ganache turtle to decorate the top of the pie, but I didn't want to take any more time on the making of this pie. I try to involve the 19 month old as much as possible but until he can stand on a stool without me worrying that he'll fall off backwards there isn't that much he can do. So I don't like to spend too much time on baking projects that take away my time with him. I did let him turn on the food processor when making the dough and he LOVED it. Now the food processor base and bowl sit on his play table and he runs over to it and says, "processor!" Then he touches a button and says, "on" and sometimes he'll follow that up with "process!" Then he might make a whirring noise and then the play starts over again. It's really very cute.

He hasn't had any of the pie, but I let him eat my crust which he loves. Mark and I are enjoying this pie very much. I'll admit I ate two slices yesterday. It's just that good.

goo close up.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Baking Bible: Honey Cake for a Sweet New Year

Moist, flavorful, easy, delicious. The whiskey and orange juice are a wonderful combination. When all the liquids are combined, the orange-whiskey-coffee-vanilla aromas made us dream of delicious cocktails. Mixing the cake took seconds.

The top crust stuck a bit in the bundt, but since the recipe is supposed to bake in a tube pan, I was happy with the results. My dear college friend, Raiuchka, was in town so we got to share the cake with her.

I'm sorry I don't have more to say; it's been a long week and weekend! We love this cake!