Jun 13, 2015
Jun 30, 2014
Over the weekend I made these banana whoopie pies for Baked Sunday Mornings. Initially I was frustrated with the milk chocolate swiss meringue filling because - and this is entirely my fault - I didn't leave the butter out long enough, so there were small chunks of cold butter in the meringue. I ended up filling most of the whoopie pies with butter-specked meringue but I just couldn't.let.it.go.
I had to leave the house and when I returned, I decided to try to salvage whatever meringue was left in the bowl. I had stuck it in the fridge while I was gone but took it out and let it sit for a half hour or so to soften a little. Then I took the whisk to it and lo and behold, this seemed to do the trick. The random spots of butter disappeared, incorporated into the chocolately goodness. I wouldn't do what I did next but I hate to waste so... I took the whoopie pies that were already filled and scraped all of the messed up meringue back into the bowl, whipped it up again, and all was good once more.
That initial trouble with the meringue didn't endear me to these whoopie pies but after the second day, they grew on me. They're delicious, great with milk, and undoubtedly adorable in their own way. And now I know that the Baked guys write "cool but not cold, butter" in the recipe for a reason.
Jun 9, 2014
I wish I could write more and post a couple more photos of this lovely cake but it's been so busy that I can't believe I actually found the time to bake and shoot. I love the swirl in the center (and the fact that it differs from slice to slice) and the citrus in the cake really appealed to me. I wasn't as big a fan of the poppy seed filling, though the glaze was a different story. I was scooping fingerfuls of it out of the bowl. Unfortunately, forgot to put orange zest into the glaze and I'm positive that if I'd not left it out, there'd hardly be any glaze on the cake :D
It was great to post again with the Baked Sunday Mornings group. I sure missed being a part of a baking group but between the Baking Bootcamp and Baked Sunday Mornings, I think it's apparent I'm somewhat back in the game. Let's see if I can make the next one. See everyone else's cakes here!
Jun 2, 2014
Are any of you participating in Joy the Baker's Baking Bootcamp? Sounds intimidating but it's not. I thought it was the perfect reason to get back into baking for no other reason than to get in the kitchen for the fun of it. Not to mention provide some material for my poor, neglected blog. Additionally it's nice to temporarily escape the semi-craziness that is life right now. Anyway. The name triple berry cinnamon swirl bread says it all. It's a gorgeous, satisfying bread and you should think of making it soon.
Apr 6, 2014
Dec 30, 2013
chocolate bundt cake with Guinness and a whiskey + Baileys Irish Cream glaze. Happy New Year!
Dec 28, 2013
Jul 25, 2013
Hi internet, I'm still here and baking, just not as frequently as before as you can probably tell. As a result of using my iPhone and Instagram 99% of the time my poor dslr has collected quite a layer of dust. I decided to remedy that today when I made this cake. It's good but with 3 sticks of butter, 8 eggs, and 3 cups of sugar (and that's not counting what's in the buttercream frosting), it's best reserved for special occasions. There's a subtle hint of lemon thanks to fresh lemon juice and lemon extract. I might add lemon zest for a little more zing next time. I don't know Betty but I like her and this recipe from the Brown Betty Cookbook. I've made the cheesecake, too, and swear that I've not had anything better before or since.
I'm halfway in my training for a half marathon and despite some nagging issues (my feet and shins/calves are NOT agreeing with all this pounding the pavement), I'm on schedule with renewed energy and a monster appetite. I'm tackling my first double digit mileage run this weekend. Wish me luck, I'll surely need it.
Mar 23, 2013
Mar 7, 2013
This lovely cake is from the new book, Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home. I have a couple of the earlier Hummingbird books but never felt compelled to make something out of them as much as I do from this one. And not just one 'something' but a few... the doughtnut cupcakes and cookies and cream cake come to mind. If you're like me and are a visual person and fan of beautiful photography this book won't disappoint -- there's a photo of the finished product for every single recipe. While my roulade doesn't quite look like theirs (with the perfect swirl in the middle), I'm fairly certain this is not the last time I make this cake.
If you're not caked out yet, head over to A Subtle Revelry and take a peek at easy checkerboard cake I made for Victoria's Creative Cakes series.
Feb 25, 2013
Blood Orange Bars
(recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Brownies and Bars)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp finely shredded blood orange peel
2/3 cup blood orange juice
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with foil. Grease foil; set pan aside.
For crust, in the bowl of a food processor combine 1 cup flour, 3 tbsp powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and butter (if you don't have a food processor, use a pastry blender, or two forks, to cut in butter). Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake about 15 mintues or until light brown around the edges.
In a medium bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, eggs, orange peel, orange juice, and, if desired, food coloring, until smooth. Stir in the 2 tbsp flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour orange mixture over hot crust.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until filling is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using the edges of the foil, lift uncut bars out of pan. Cut into bars and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
*if you can't find blood oranges, regular oranges and orange juice can be substituted
Jan 14, 2013
Dec 31, 2012
This was a recipe I could manage this week for Baked Sunday Mornings. Take a look at how the other bakers fared; love all the variations on one of my favorite cookies. Happy New Year, everyone.
Dec 5, 2012
I'm grateful for Tuesdays with Dorie for keeping me in line with baking and photographing at least once a month. This gingerbread cake is a reminder of the season. While not one I'd make again, it was a good reason to break out the mini springform pans. Recipe and beautiful pics can be found on Karen's blog, and wander to the TWD site to click on links from other bakers.
Nov 21, 2012
I'm a day late on this post for Tuesdays with Dorie due to a sick kiddo at home. I made these brownies again; you can check out my first attempt here (scroll to the end or you'll have to go through some Paris photos first). I baked them about 20 minutes longer than the first time, resulting in a less gooey, but still delicious, brownie. Going for bite-size but tired of squares? Try a cookie cutter for something different (I used a round fluted one). The scraps are pretty great for snacking or crumbled in a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Nov 8, 2012
Nov 2, 2012
I'm late posting this but I promise these were made on Tuesday. We are bread fiends so I chose to make this recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie catch-up day. It's an easy recipe that can be made in a day. One loaf I kept plain, the other I added cinnamon sugar... both are great with Trader Joe's pumpkin butter!
Oct 26, 2012
Just a random Friday post.
More cookies to share... only visually, unfortunately. I'd love nothing more than to share them in real-life, especially the chocolate chip cookies (herein known as CCC) pictured above. It's actually called the Chocolate Chunk and Chip cookie and it's from the just released, 5lb impressive tome, Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel. What sets this cookie apart from your typical CCC is the smidgen of molasses, which I'm not too fond of (see previous post) but it works and makes this a memorable cookie. I'd say it rivals my all-time favorite, brown butter and fleur de sel CCC, which I bake so often I've practically memorized the recipe.
The candy corn cookies are a basic butter cookie recipe from the also new book Standard Baking Co. Pastries (my list for bakeries-I-must-visit-someday increases, and includes Standard). I used the same cookie cutter which came in handy for last fall's candy corn cake pops. The method I came up with for making these in the shape and colors of candy corn was more work than I would do again, but they turned out better than I thought.
Can't wait to bake more from both cookbooks though let's be honest; I read them as if they're novels or coffee table books.
Back to the topic of cookies... who is participating in the The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap? I haven't committed to it yet but chances are good I'll sign up. Surely this is why I've been churning out the cookies lately -- practice. This year there is a great cause and a cookie spatula to consider.
Be back later to post some shots from a short trip up north to visit a persimmon orchard.
Oct 21, 2012
Joe Froggers is the unusual name for the more descriptive Ginger Rum Molasses Cookies, the recipe for this week's Baked Sunday Mornings. I sound like a broken record these days because of all the things I bake but discover I'm not fond of... and no surprise then, I generally don't go for molasses cookies -- just not my thing. However, I'm not going to turn down the chance to bake and learn, and I'm usually willing to give something a second chance. Especially if it's a cookie.
This was a fairly easy recipe, quick to put together and let chill in the fridge overnight. The dough was a bit sticky and soft but manageable after working in some flour. I unintentionally left the rum out and don't know what I was missing.
All I know is that these cookies baked beautifully in the oven. I went for chewy and that's exactly what I got baking them for 8 minutes (had the option to go to 12 min for a crispier cookie). Their uniformity and simplicity -- just a sprinkling of sugar on top -- made them great photogenic subjects. And who knew molasses cookies could be so... moody? :)
It was a foggy day when I photographed the cookies, and while not my favorite weather, these type of conditions offer soft, diffuse light for shooting. It's like having a huge softbox right outside your window, and best of all, it's free.
Get the Joe Froggers recipe. Happy Sunday!
Oct 17, 2012
The 2nd Tuesdays with Dorie assignment this month was bagels. At first I was intimidated by the recipe but I forged ahead and don't regret it.
The recipe states dividing the dough in two after the overnight rest in the fridge and shaping them just prior to baking. I decided to halve the dough before the fridge, shaping one batch into bagels and placing them on a sheet pan, leaving the other batch in the bowl. Both went into the fridge.
The following morning I made the ready-to-go bagels and to my horror -- they were pretty tough and relatively flat (as in I couldn't slice them into two pieces). Still edible though. We ate 1-1/2 and would've considered playing ring toss with the remaining bagels. With those results I thought I had ruined the recipe.
A few days later I baked the second batch. It had been in the fridge a total of 3 days (1 more day than recommended in the book) so I didn't hold out much hope. But lo and behold, after having a bit of practice shaping the bagels and knowing the steps, this batch turned out much better than the first. They were fluffier and not as tough. I could actually split the bagels in two to spread on some cream cheese. I sprinkled poppy seeds on one bagel and left the others plain -- the way I like it.
My technique could use some improvement (especially shaping... the directions weren't the clearest), but I was happy with these and will definitely come back to the recipe. Adding bagels to the list of items I've baked for the first time this year ;D
- The first batch set the fire alarm off in my house. Second time around I turned the oven down to 475 instead of 500 and opened as many doors as possible. Seemed to do the trick... no screeching alarm to scare the neighbors and my dog.
- I boiled the bagels a minute on each side.
Oct 14, 2012
My family loved these scones; I was just lukewarm :( I did enjoy the crunch of the turbinado sugar on top and thought it gave the scones a nice finished look.
Since these were a hit with the fam, it's possible I'll make them again. I might halve the dough as one baker did and leave out the choco chips for the PB&J version.
Scone recipe here. I'll have a link to the roundup when it's up. Have a great Sunday! It's shaping up to be a sunny one here in Monterey.
Oct 14, 2012
We lost a much beloved pet a few days ago. I spent extra time in the kitchen that day... baking, sorrowful. I took his death the hardest, even more than my kids I think.
My husband, after years of astute observation, says I clean when I'm mad, and bake when I'm sad. It's true. Silly as it may sound, baking offers some measure of comfort, at least for me anyway.
Recipe for homemade jelly doughnuts on my good friend Denise's blog; hers look perfectly made, which is what drew me in to try the recipe in the first place. That and the fact that I already had everything, thus avoiding a trip to the store in my pjs, tear-streaked face and unbrushed hair to complete the look.
Below, a few of the Santa Cruz boardwalk where I hung out with my dear friend Alisa, who was visiting from Hawaii. Though it's been a year and a half since I moved away, we picked up where we left off -- us shooting, "talking story," eating butter mochi, marveling on how much our kids have grown. Good times. The weather was gorgeous to boot, couldn't have asked for better really.
What I'm reading/browsing through.
Very food-centric, eh? The top book, The Alchemyst, is the first in a series that I was introduced to rather randomly. On long drives I listen to the audio CD but at home I enjoy curling up with the book. I loved the Harry Potter books and this reminds me of the time I spent engrossed in that series.
Focus on Food Photography for Bloggers by Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites. The conversational tone and witty voice make this a fun read.
Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Creating Irresistible Images by Teri Campbell. Really enjoying this book as the author has provided lighting set-ups and diagrams for shoots described in each chapter. Great for visual learners like me.
Extraordinary Cakes by Karen Krasne. I got this purely based on the stellar reviews, and someday when I'm crazy enough, I will spend several days attempting to make one of the gorgeous, one-of-a-kind cakes in the book.
Kinfolk Volume 5. Always a pleasure to receive Kinfolk in the mail. It's one to be savored for sure.
What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies. She's one of my favorite food bloggers/photographers. I couldn't wait for my copy to arrive and it didn't disappoint. Made the beef and guinness pie already (excellent) and have bookmarked the pumpkin ravioli and coffee hazelnut frangelico cake.
Bake & Decorate by Fiona Cairns (she made Kate and William's wedding cake). Only $2.41 on Amazon; strangely enough, the bargain price is $12.00.
Lastly. My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Jen Burgess Thompson. I've not been able to stop thinking about her. After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer a little over a year ago, she lost her hard-fought battle yesterday. She leaves behind two young sons. I can't imagine. I didn't know her but she was part of a huge and immensely supportive photography community so in a sense, I did know her, and am deeply touched and inspired by her. Rest in peace, Jen.
See you tomorrow for Baked Sunday Mornings.
Oct 2, 2012
I'm on a roll. Consecutive posts for two different baking groups deserves a pat on the back... or a chocolate chip cookie. The first recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie in October is this Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf from Baking with Julia. Considering my not so stellar record with recipes lately, I made certain to read and reread the recipe as it turned out to be a two-day affair with a couple of rising periods. Knowing this wasn't a quick bread, I saved the weekend to bake, crossing fingers, toes, and eyes that I'd have something to post on Tuesday.
To be honest, this was one recipe I wasn't particularly inspired by. I'm not experienced working with yeast so I had reservations and fears from past failures reminded me to really attention to times and such. I didn't have the exact loaf pans specified in the book but I got close, using two mini pans that had similar dimensions... I believe they were an inch longer and 3/4in less in width than the sizes mentioned. The remaining dough went in a 9x5 pan -- probably too large for what was left. Another modification, rather minor... used dried cranberries instead of fresh.
Fortunately, the dough had no problems rising or resting in the fridge overnight. However, on the second rise (with the dough separated in the pans the next day), I likely miscalculated the amount to put in each pan because the dough didn't rise above the rims or even completely fill in the spaces; hence slightly flatter loaves and no real "muffin" tops (hehe)... or, according to the book, beautiful crowns.
Overall I'm fine with the results. It's not my favorite bread nor do I see myself revisiting the recipe; I found the taste of pumpkin lacking and rather disappointing. But it's not bad and I plan on having a warmed slice with my coffee in the morning.
Sep 30, 2012
So I was absent last week from posting on the Baked Sunday Mornings site; not going to lie, I was bummed that it had to be the Whiskey Pear Tart that I missed. I love pears and tarts and no doubt feel I would've liked the two combined. There's always tomorrow.
Seeing how ill-prepared I was last week (in my defense, my in-laws were here and my husband had his grad school graduation ceremony) I planned ahead for this week's recipe. I had everything but the bread and whole wheat flours so after a trip to Whole Foods, I was ready to bake mid-week. I'm not a huge fan of pretzels to begin with but I figured I'd give it a shot since this would be my first time making them. Plus, who could deny the allure of cinnamon and sugar... not I.
The recipe is straightforward and I didn't have any real issues. I created some monster-sized pretzels, 8 total (the yield is 12-18). I had fun... rolling out and shaping the dough, sticking them in the bubbling baking soda bath -- I felt like a kid playing and conducting a science experiment.
baking soda bath
The texture of the finished pretzels was great, and they're best eaten warm, just a few minutes out of the oven. I didn't find them sweet enough (I know, yesterday I was saying I couldn't handle sweet...) so I wonder if the dough can be modified and made sweeter. The great thing about the recipe is that it's customizable and the possibilities for toppings are endless. The dough being as versatile as it is, I'd even go so far as to consider making pretzel dogs or bites for the kids.
Sep 5, 2012
Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. Yesterday I was a bit under the weather. I suddenly came down with a mysterious fever (with severe chills!) late Sunday night and spent most of the next day on the couch. No beach or BBQing for me. Today I went in for my yearly check-up and ended up walking out with a suspicious-sounding lung, a prescription for Zithromax and a shot in the butt because my doctor diagnosed me with pneumonia. Did not expect that. But it would probably explain the fever, not to mention why I've been feeling generally crappy lately.
While the discovery of a potentially serious infection during a routine check-up is not exactly serendipitous I'm certainly glad it was caught before things got worse. Let's see how long I can milk this for the family's sympathy...
So back to this cake. I was able to muster some energy to spend a few hours in the kitchen yesterday to bake this recipe with the Tuesdays with Dorie group... I couldn't let them down! It wasn't a particularly difficult recipe, just a lot of steps. After reading through the recipe several times I still messed up (see next paragraph).
In place of a 10" springform that I don't own, I used a 9" springform pan. I melted the butter for the topping in a glass measuring cup instead of in the pan directly on the stovetop (this made me nervous for some reason, and apparently some other TWDers felt the same way). I accidentally poured all 1.5 cups of sugar in with the egg yolks, instead of reserving half a cup to whisk with the egg whites. Doh. So I put a scant 1/4 cup of sugar during the egg white whipping stage, hoping that everything was not ruined at this point. Fortunately, I got a gorgeous meringue and was able to continue.
I baked my cake for 45 minutes, checked it, left it in for 5 minutes more, then removed it from the oven. But a nagging feeling and a peek at the reviews over at TWD that questioned the baking time made me double back. I stuck the cake back in the oven for 20 more minutes. I'm glad I did. Though the top was dark brown, the center of the cake was finally done, albeit sunken in after some time cooling.
I debated whether to make the streusel because some of the TWDers left it out. I decided to go ahead with it but left the top of the cake streusel-free, enjoying my slice with whipped cream instead.
I'm relieved the cake turned out fine even with the extra sugar. I think peaches would work just as well in place of nectarines; it did for Susan (one of the hosts this month). I'm looking forward to having a piece for breakfast with a cup of joe in the morning. Head over to Marlise's blog The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan's blog The Little French Bakery for the recipe and beautiful photos, and to the links page if you'd like to check out everyone else's posts.
Sep 2, 2012
This time of year cake and ice cream are frequently spotted in our house due to the spacing of birthdays a few weeks apart. No cute cheeseburger cake or funky, tall cake this year, though. These cakes are more subtle, less showy, yet still fit for a birthday or two.
I'm realizing how piping-challenged I really am. The roses kicked my butt as did the application of the dye. I was going for a gradient effect but clearly failed. Once you see past that and get to the red velvet cheesecake, it will make you forget about sucky dyed flower decorations.
The ice cream, a roasted strawberry and buttermilk recipe from Jeni's Splendid ice cream book, was worth getting seconds.
Flare... I love capturing it because it means there's sun. In Monterey!
checkerboard cake (lead photo): vanilla cake recipe from Joy the Baker's cookbook; cocoa-buttermilk cake recipe (just the cake) by Dorie Greenspan; pastel swirl effect inspired by Sweetapolita. I bought Wilton's checkerboard cake pan set from Michael's.
red velvet cheesecake recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. the layers were frosted with cream cheese frosting (I halved the recipe, which can be found on the same page as the red velvet cheesecake recipe). the roses were made using Wilton's buttercream icing recipe; inspired by i am baker's rose cake.
Jeni's roasted strawberry and buttermilk ice cream recipe.
I'm getting ready to make the first recipe of the month for Tuesdays with Dorie -- another cake. Plus I'm searching my baking books again for my own bday cake this week. I predict we'll be sick of cakes after this. Be safe this weekend.
Aug 22, 2012
I did the unthinkable and committed to something somewhat long-term: Tuesdays with Dorie. We are baking through the entire Baking with Julia cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. I'm a little late joining the party (they started in February) but there's still a while to go, with about 15 recipes out of nearly 200 done so far by the group.
I couldn't have joined at a better time. We baked popovers (contributed by the late Marion Cunningham) and they were easier than the box mix of red velvet whoopie pies I made yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised by their billowy tops and hollow interiors, the steam escaping as I pulled them from the oven. I enjoyed a couple of warm popovers with butter and Peach-Apricot preserves; next time I think I'll add cheese (Gruyere perhaps?) and herbs.
Aug 5, 2012
I instagrammed this collage the day I got Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. I pre-ordered it months ago and when previews and recipes from the book started popping up, I found the recipe for the Lemon and Almond Streamliner cake and made it. Two thumbs up.
Yesterday I baked the Butterscotch Cream Roll-Up cake... the photo on the lower right up there convinced me. Or maybe it was the word "butterscotch." And when I finally made it, I couldn't decide whether my tastebuds loved the butterscotch sauce or frosting more. I'm not ashamed to say I ate both out of the container/mixer bowl, in large quantities. I'll be baking more from the book for sure. Maybe I'll end up baking the whole book and blogging about it. You know, à la Julie and Julia and in the same vein as Tuesdays with Dorie and Me-ette. A project to motivate me to continue blogging? Sounds good I guess.
Last week I needed to get out of the house so my girl and I took a little road trip up to Napa to visit a couple of bakeries and meet Julie of Always With Butter. We had coffee at Model Bakery in St. Helena.
I've been a fan of Julie's work forever; hers is one of the few blogs I follow these days. She was sweet to consider meeting up after work, a shift she started before most of us on the coast were even awake. We talked film cameras and photography, food, and blogging -- I gave her butter from France and she gave me baked treats that she'd made that day at work. Lucky me :) (thanks, Julie!)
My daughter and I stopped at Bouchon Bakery on the way home. We ordered Thomas Keller Oreos (TKOs) and peaches n' cream macarons. Eating these made me excited for the book coming out in the fall. I seem to have a thing for going to places that have cookbooks on the market. I think visiting Tartine and Bi-Rite Creamery in SF will make my Bay Area list complete.
Had a couple slices of pain au levain from Model Bakery the next morning. Yeah, an overall great couple of days of pigging out on breads and sweets.