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Thursday, October 28, 2010

FFWD: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

This is Marie Helene's Apple Cake from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.

I made 1/2 a recipe and baked in a 7 inch pan with removable bottom. I used 3 different kinds of apples (Jonagold , Honeycrisp, and Golden Delicious). I know for 1/2 a recipe I should have used only 2 of them but I want to get a lot of variety in the mix.

This cake is super easy to make, probably one of the easiest cakes I've made. I don't even have to crank on the KA mixer and that's saying a lot.

Tasting impressions:
Hubby gave it a thumbs up and said it's really good. As for me, on the day of baking, I thought the cake was good but not special. The next day, the taste improves and I am changing my verdict. It is really good. I love that there are more apples than dough in there. The dark rum definitely adds a dimension to the taste. This one will be repeated for sure.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PPB: Marionberry Turnover

This is Marionberry Turnover from the Pie & Pastry Bible. The crust is Rose's yummy-licious Flaky Cream Cheese Crust. In the book, Rose gave the option to use apples, cherries, raspberries, blueberries for filling. But I thought I'd try to use the yummy marionberry.

I made 1/2 recipe which was supposed to yield 12 mini turnover. I ended up with 15 :). Something's wrong with the math there but no one's complaining though, as these are so good.

Now for next time, I might actually follow the instruction and make one with apples, or blueberries. The possiblities are endless!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

1 Year Anniversary

This month I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of baking from RHC with the Heavenly Cake Bakers.

I have baked 46 cakes from the book:
20 (out of 39) Butter and Oil Cakes
11 (out of 19) Sponge Cakes
6 (out of 13) Mostly Flourless Cakes and Cheesecakes
9 (out of 23) Baby Cakes - I am not counting the 3 frosting recipes in this section

One more cake and I will be exactly halfway done with the book yay!

It has been a really good year. I have learned A LOT! I have grown from not liking cakes so much to loving cakes. I have learned to appreciate weighing ingredients. I also have accumulated a lot of cake pans, decorating tools, 2 oven thermometer, 2 instant thermometer, 5 kinds of sugar, 9 kinds of flour (well, okay some of them are from bread baking ^_^).

Most importantly, I have met a lot of really nice and cool bakers out there who - even though I have not met in person - I am proud to call my friends.

So to Rose, Marie, all my HCB friends, and all of my Rose's forum friends, here's to 1 year of baking, and let's hope the next year will be just as exciting :).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blog Identity Crisis

Yes I know. I am having an identity crisis. Yesterday I announced I am considering moving to wordpress - I even posted the Many-Splendored Quick Bread there. Today I am modifying my blogger blog :).

I do like wordpress, there are more themes to choose from and more settings to use, but it is slower to load. And I really do not like having to approve comments! So those are the downsides that I do not like.

Oh well, I will figure out which one I want to use - eventually :).

Monday, October 18, 2010

HCB: Many-Splendored Quick Bread

I am considering moving my blog to Wordpress. Please click here to view the Many-Splendored Quick Bread.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

This is a story about homemade ricotta cheese. Why? Because when I went to buy said cheese, the price has increased from $6 to $8 for a tub of ricotta (we buy organic dairy). Shocked at the price, I decided that I should try to make it myself.  Okay, 1st take 1/4 quart of milk and 1/4 tsp of Citric Acid. I got Citric Acid at Vitamin Cottage. Dissolve the Citric Acid in 2 Tbsp of water and stir it into the milk. Then heat the milk up on medium heat.
Stir occasionally, don't let the milk come to a boil. Here you see the milk start looking clumpy.

And here is when I realized that the WB Auto setting on my camera isn't doing a good job. Because then I manually set it to the tungsten lamp and the picture looks better - no more yellow hue!

Here the milk starts really separating. I think the liquid is called whey, and the white clumps, well that would be our future ricotta cheese.

Next, you pour the milk into the strainer. I got this white cloth from my mom, and don't know what it is. But I think you can use coffee filter or cheesecloth and fine strainer combo.

See how nice those cheese-to-be look like?

I let it strain for 15 minutes, until all the liquid is gone. I think I let it go too long, because the cheese was really firm and dry. Next time I need to save a bit of those whey liquid and store the cheese in it.

Pretty easy right? The whole thing took less than an hour and yield a handful of ricotta cheese. And what's great is that you can do other things in the kitchen while the milk is heating up, since you only have to stir it occasionally. I am not sure how long this homemade version keep but I would suggest using it within a couple of days.

Monday, October 11, 2010

TCB: Strawberry Maria

This is Strawberry Maria from The Cake Bible - sans the Chocolate Lattice Band. I decorated this ala Hector. The cake comprises of Genoise Au Chocolat and frosted with Strawberry Cloud Cream.

It was my 1st time making Genoise Au Chocolat - so I was a bit nervous. Genoise sometimes is a hit and miss for me. Remember this one? Well turns out I had good baking mojo on Saturday, as this genoise could not have turned out better.

The Strawberry Cloud Cream was pretty easy. I let the frozen strawberries thaw on the counter overnight. Then while the liquid is boiling, puree the strawberries, then combined both. The good thing with strawberries is that the seeds are so soft that you don't have to strain it out.

Decorating the cake is not as hard as I thought! Hector was right! Piping this was easier than piping small roses for the Golden Lemon Almond Cake a couple of weeks ago. My only issue was that the cloud cream is pretty soft, it was hard to get it to stay straight on the sides and my rose center looks like they want to just blend together!

Tasting impression:
This cake got rave reviews from my friends. People were taking 2nd and 3rds. Comments are "the cake is very light", "it's not too sweet", "the frosting taste like strawberry ice cream", "did you use real strawberries", "I'm going for another piece." I couldn't be happier!

Monday, October 4, 2010

HCB: Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes

 Marie has said in her Last Cake, Next Cake summary a couple of weeks ago, that the Pineapple Pudding is a two-fer, as it calls for making brioche and if we make Rose's brioche, then that's another thing to cross off the list. Having read that, of course the next thing I did was completely spaced out about it (man, it sucks getting old and having my memory fails me!). Until last Saturday when I was waiting for the Golden Lemon Almond Cake to finish baking, I thought to look at the Pineapple Pudding recipe. I was shocked to see that it calls for making a brioche. So I immediately went into crazy baking mode and started the brioche.

This is my 3rd time making Rose's brioche. The other two times I used the recipe in the Bread Bible. I haven't made the side by side comparison but I don't noticed any difference in the recipes. It is pretty easy to made, just time consuming in that there are a lot of waiting around.

So on Sunday, I let the brioche dough rise in the loaf pan, while I preheated the oven. I have one of those dual standing oven, the big bottom oven is busy with lamb tagine, so I figured I'll use the top smaller oven. Rose said to bake the brioche on a baking stone. I have 2 baking stone, one is a fancy one from Williams Sonoma and a cheapo one from Bed Bath & Beyond. The fancy stone happened to be in the smaller oven, so I just let that one preheated. When it's all ready, I slid the loaf pan onto it, and at that time noticed that there's not much head space between the top of the brioche and the top of the oven. I didn't think that much of it because hey, there's still some room. Well, next thing you know, about 10 minutes later, I smell something burning, opened the oven and saw that the top of the brioche is stuck on the oven ceiling. On another circumstances I would have said: "hey Rose's brioche has nice oven spring!" This is not one of those circumstances. What I said was: "Oh shit!" I frantically grabbed my oven mitts, pulled the brioche out, pulled the baking stone out, put the cheapo baking stone in (it's shorter), put the brioche back in the oven, checked the head room (there are plenty of space!), went to the liquor cabinet and treat myself to a little sip of Grand Marnier.

Once the brioche finished baking and cooled, I cut all the burnt part off and freeze the rest in an airtight container.

Fast forward to Saturday a week later, it's pudding time!

The pudding calls for cutting the brioche into little cubes and letting it out to dry for 8 hours or letting it dry in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour. I used the later approach, much faster and the baby brioches are nicely crispy and ready to be soaked in the creme anglaise.

A couple of hours after the brioche started soaking, I started on the caramel. Pretty straightforward until I realized I forgot to add butter. I looked at them caramel, which is rock hard by now, in each ramekins and thought, hm.. do I want to do over? Make it, wait for it to turn amber, then re-distributed it by weight on each ramekins, not to mention that I would have to wash said ramekins first, coat with butter. I really weigh the pros and cons (more cons than pros), and it took me about 10 seconds to decide it's not worth it. Onto the next step of the recipe.

Roasting pineapples. Supposed to be pretty easy and straightforward. Calls for caramelizing water and turbinado sugar. I stir and stir and those darn sugar wouldn't dissolve. By this point I was in no mood to considering starting over anything so I proceeded, put the pineapples in and let it cook some more, then it goes into the oven. About 20 minutes and a lot of basting-pineapple-action later, I took the pineapple out and let it cooled while I watched the CSI Vegas recording on the telly.

Once the pineapple slices cooled, I cut it into thin slices and decorate the ramekins. Then press the soaked-brioche cubes onto it, then everything is baked in the water bath in the oven for 1/2 hour.

After it's done, I let the ramekins cooled for an hour, then plopped it onto a plate. Grr.. some of the caramel were stuck onto the ramekins. I grabbed another ramekins, same thing. The next day, I forgo Rose's instructions to reheat in water bath (no way I'm doing 2 water baths in 1 weekend) and instead heated up the ramekins in a "water bath" on the stove. 20 minutes later, when the ramekins are plopped onto the small plate, all the caramel has dissolved :).

Tasting impression:
I am disappointed. I love cakes with fruits and I really want to like this cake. What's not to like? There's brioche and there's pineapple. I like both, correction, I LOVE both. Plus this is a homemade brioche, which as far as brioche goes, is really top notch. But combined together, all I taste is the creme anglaise, which is basically sweet milk. It tastes good but if I'm going to spend all those hours making brioche and all the steps it takes to make the pudding, I want to have it tasting more than just sweet milk. Sorry Rose, but this one not be a repeat.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

GC: Potato Skins with Gruyere and Bacon, Baked BBQ Wings

A couple of months ago, my friend Monica and I got to talking about, well, baking and HCB and cooking, and she mentioned wanting to start a new savory club and asked if I will join up. I said YES. Fast forward to present time, today is the launch weekend of Gutsy Cooks. YAY!

1st up on the menu is these yummy Potato Skins with Cheddar and Bacon along with Baked BBQ Wings. I am of the opinion that anything with bacon must be good.

The recipe calls for baking the potatoes in the oven for 45 minutes. I baked it for 1 hour. While the potatoes were baking, I marinated the wings with some EVOO, tomato paste, brown sugar, oregano, shallots, garlic, hot pepper sauce (I used cholula), and salt & pepper. The recipe tells you to put them all in a plastic bag but I like to use a plastic containers - less waste that way.

Once the potatoes are tender, cut the top third of the potatoes, spooned out the insides to be mashed and combined with milk and butter. Then mixed with the pre-cooked bacon bits, I added gruyere instead of cheddar as I prefer gruyere. Into the oven it went with the wings, for 30 minutes.

Blue cheese being the least popular cheese in the house (along with gorgonzola), I decided to skip it alltogether.

Tasting impressions:
YUM! Love both dishes. The potatoes were a bit heavy (I think I was pretty liberal with the milk and cheese :) so we had some leftover wings, which I took to work the next day. They were better the day after too!

Friday, October 1, 2010

FFWD: Gougeres

Dorie Greenspan just released a new cookbook: Around My French Table and soon thereafter a new club was formed with the goal to to cook and bake from this book.

I have to admit I've heard of Dorie before but I am not familiar with her recipes or her cookbooks. This fabulous gougeres is the 1st recipe I made of her and I can tell you that I am in love with Dorie already!

Not only is these little puffy goodness are fabulous in taste (soft, moist, and so aromatic of gruyere), but they are so easy. I made 1/2 recipes and it took 20 minutes to prepare.

I was a little surprised that they turned out a bit yellowish, I got organic eggs and I think they are more yellow than regular eggs. I am also finding that they taste better at room temperature than straight out of the oven. It is more cheesy at room temp :).

Disclaimer: no recipe is posted for French Fridays with Dorie, per request from the publisher.