July 16, 2011

to Cake Pop or to Pake Cop

I made another wedding cake this weekend. It was great fun, except that in addition to the wedding cake, I made a cake for my co-worker's son's birthday. I don't think I'll overbook myself again and I'm asking all of you to hold me accountable. I can't imagine another week of working 10+ hour days, then standing in the kitchen for another few hours each night in preparation. The birthday cake was fun and gigantic, and I'll be sure to share some photos and recipes later. The wedding cake was much less stressful than my first, and it turned out well. I guess you learn a little bit each time, right?

I'm working on a post for the wedding cake, but was hoping you all might have some great ideas for all of my leftover scraps. You know, the rounded portions of the cakes you have to sacrifice to make each layer perfectly level. As much as I love cake pops, I wanted to make something a little less sweet (pake cops). Maybe incorporate chocolate ganache into the batter instead of frosting? I want something a little more grown-up. I'm guessing Michael would prefer to keep sprinkling the scraps on top of ice cream...

Ok people, I'm all ears and a bit brain-dead. Looking forward to two more cakes and a pie this week. hehe. (now in your best mad scientist voice) I. Will. Never. Stop. Baking!

July 12, 2011

Beet Chips

When I was little, the only beets I knew were in a jar the fridge submerged in dark purpleish-red juice and they were gross. I don't like pickled beets (Michael does). I don't like many things pickled but beets are at the top of my list. It wasn't until I moved to SF that I experienced beets in a positive way. A lot of restaurants jumped on the "beet and goat cheese" bandwagon, and I finally realized I loved roasted beets. Naturally sweet and earthy, how can you resist?

It's hard to cook beets any other way, or make them different because beets always taste the same. I don't  eat beets with goat cheese much anymore. The best beet salad I had recently was literally a pile of thinly sliced red and gold beets with a handful of greens, bleu cheese and candied walnuts from Chez Spencer. Yum. I often get tired of roasted beets. When this happens, I go in search of a new recipe. I've heard of beet cake, and beetloaf, but the most appealing were beet chips!

We had a little package of beet chips from Whole Foods in my office recently. One of my bosses set them out. My office likes to munch. If they had been normal potato chips, they may have made it past lunch, but the beet chips last a few days. They were thick cut and fried. Shame on you Whole Foods! You don't have to fry all things to make them taste good. Instead, I sliced up a few beets with the mandoline, sprinkled them lightly with kosher salt and baked them until they were light and crispy. They are delicious and pretty. They also don't taste as vegetal as the WF fried version. They are a great snack, and most likely an easy way to get kids to eat something different. Who would not try a purple chip?

The only unfortunate thing about beet chips is they shrink so much when you bake them. Almost by half. So, in order to feed a lot of people for an interesting party snack, you would have to peel and slice a lot of beets. Not bad if you have a little time and like pink hands.

Beet Chips
10 medium size beets peeled and sliced thin on a mandoline (or as thin as your knife can slice them)
2 T olive oil (optional)
kosher salt

Slice the beets and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment or a silicone mat. Place the beets in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt. (also you can toss the chips in olive oil before placing on the sheet) Bake at 350˚ for 15-20 minutes. Most of the moisture should be gone. Let air dry until completely crisp. Enjoy!

July 8, 2011

Apricot Blueberry Cobbler

The other night I blew up a pyrex in my kitchen. I realize now I shouldn't put my trust in a brand name that has been around forever, claiming you can transfer your bakeware from freezer to oven and such. I could trust something made in the 1920's but not recently. They changed the glass product from borosilicate glass to soda-lime glass which can't handle the swing in temperatures and results in a shatter. I lost some good pastry cream and spent way too much time cleaning little glass shards out of my kitchen. Note to bakers: don't use pyrex on the stovetop (and definitely use caution in the oven with change in temperature). This little disaster put a bit of a hold on my baking for a while. I remade my pastry cream and finished a birthday tart for my office, but since then, I haven't been baking much. sigh.

Kitchen disaster behind, I decided to use some new ramekins to make individual apricot blueberry cobblers. Sugar Dough was the monthly recipe for June over at the Easy Bake cOven  and since I had some very ripe fruits in my fridge, I put together this incredibly simple dessert.

I think most people are more familiar with cobbler that has a fruit filling and a sugar dough topping. Sugar dough may range from a biscuity dough to a thick crumble, and even hunks of bread. The sugar dough recipe we used came from the restaurant stove in Portsmouth, Virginia. I was reading a blog post the other day and someone said they were skeptical of restaurants who published their recipes. Would they leave something out? Why would they reveal their secrets to ordinary people? Well, I can't tell you the answers to these questions, but I'm glad that some restaurants are confident enough to do it. I have a feeling knowing Stove's recipe will not keep Sarah & Eric from going back! Thanks for picking this recipe, it was fantastic!

Mini Fruit Cobbler 
you can use any stone fruit or fruits that won't obliterate when cooked

for one 10 oz ramekin:
slice 3 small fruits into a buttered ramekin
add 2 tablespoons blueberries
break up 1 scant tablespoon of butter and distribute evenly
sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the top
top with sugar dough and press lightly into the fruit (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
set ramekins on a baking sheet
bake for 20-25 minutes at 350˚F or until the fruit is bubbly

Stove’s Sugar Dough
This is not a dough for rolling, you have to pat this dough out into the pan your using for dessert. It’s rich and wonderful and can also be made into a short bread as well. I have even used it for bottoms of pans mixed with pecans and then a cake batter over that for a crunch factor. Just don’t over mix it or you will have some good rubber dough

1 cup white sugar, baker’s sugar if you can find it
1lb unsalted double A butter
6 cups of all purpose flour, (unbleached and without chemicals if possible, King Arthur is good stuff and easy to find)

In the bowl of a 4 to 6qt. mixer cream the sugar and butter until light and somewhat fluffy. Stop the machine, scrape down sides and add all at once 6 cups of flour, raise the bowl and on the lowest speed blend the dough until it pulls together. If it’s winter and your environment isn’t warm you may need to spray from a mister water a little at a time till the dough starts to combine. Pinch a bit of dough to see if it will hold together, if so it’s ready for use. 

this dough stores in the refrigerator for a week or so. It also makes a ton, so feel free to half the recipe.

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