Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
So, my good friend "Big Guy" had a birthday on Friday. I told him I wanted to make him a birthday cake and organize something for his birthday. I told him he could have any kind of cake he wanted. I was pretty sure he'd ask for something chocolate and then I could try one of the many chocolate cakes on my "must-try" list. But, no, he chose a lemon cake.
Nothing wrong with that choice of course. But, man, I sure have been on a lemon baking kick lately. And, not just lemon desserts, but lemon cakes too. First there was the Luscious Lemon Cake for my sister-in-law's birthday. Then there was the TWD Lemon Yogurt Cake which I turned into a birthday cake for myself. And so Big Guy's lemon cake makes three. (Even though I so badly want to join the Cake Slice group - haven't heard a response yet - I guess it is a good thing I am not in that group because then that would have been 4 lemon cakes in 3 months! )
And, like I said, lemon cakes are not the only lemon goodies that have come out of my oven recently. There was my delicious Lemon Apricot Cupcakes, the TWD Lemon Custard and Lemon Cookies (that I haven't even posted yet). Phew. Lemon is good though - so its all good. But hopefully the next birthday in my life will choose something other than lemon!
So, it was a tough choice - what lemon cake to make? The first two I made received rave reviews. But, I am a sucker for trying new things. It's kind of like celebrities and their red carpet wear - even if they make the best dressed list and are the talk of the town, they'd rather take a chance next time than do a repeat. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, because I do rely on standbys but I love to try new things - so you get the metaphor. The Cake Slice bakers hit the blogs hard with their tempting and gorgeous photos of their Lemon Chiffon cakes. I almost chose this cake to make, almost.
But, I didn't. Jessica from the awesome blog A Singleton in the Kitchen made the Lemon Drop Cake from Baked. As you may know, I just got this cookbook for my birthday from my lovely friend Jaci and after reading the recipe and getting inspired by Jessica and chose the Baked cake. She posted the recipe here so I am not going to do so because this post is already pretty long. So, late into the night I began making the cake. I had learned from Jessica's post that it was a delicate cake and that I needed to proceed with care. Did I listen?
I did not panic though. I saw how Jessica was able to turn almost disaster into a beautiful cake, so I plowed on. I was able to carefully cut the cracked layer (which was cooked all the way through) thanks to my NEW Atteco Revolving Cake Stand which I got from Hubby for my Birthday ( I never knew I NEEDED this and I LOVE it). I then cut the badly sunken cake in half and decided not to use the top half (with an undercooked sunken center). There - three layers just how the Baked boys intended. But, what to do with the good cake ring around the sunken center of that fourth layer?
Mini Lemon Drop cakes!! I used a biscuit cutter to cut out four circles. I filled them with the lemon curd, crumb coated them and then frosted them with the lemon buttercream frosting from the Luscious Lemon Cake (I was too tired to do the complicated looking one in the Baked book). And, in honor of spring and the new baking group I created - Sweet Melissa Sundays - to bake our way through the Sweet Melissa Baking Book, I decorated them using little bee toppers. How cute are those? Anyhow, the baking group will start posting next Sunday and there is a giveaway of the Baking Book that is open until 11:59PM PST tonight! Come join us!
Friday, March 27, 2009
It is called Sweet Melissa Sundays and we are going to bake out of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book. It's gonna be a lot like TWD (organization wise). Check it out and join me if you are not over committed with all the baking events out there! First post Sunday April 5th.
And, there is a giveaway to celebrate too. Check it out!
Hope ya join me.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I made these fun and delicious cupcakes to celebrate the settlement of my big case (that I had been working on for years). Sometimes, just the simple desserts that people are familiar with are just what people are looking for. These did the trick, and actually went a lot quicker than the Mexican chocolate cupcakes (to be forthcoming in another post). Usually, chocolate is the first to go.
I got the idea for these cupcakes browsing on one of my favorite blogs I Heart Cuppycakes by Clara (you see I had A LOT of Google Reader Blog reading to catch up with when I got back from trial - like many hundreds of posts - you were all very busy bakers!). Clara did a post about her Thank You Cupcakes and they included these funfetti cupcakes. I decided to give them a whirl and boost the color a little by making rainbow frosting.
The verdict: people REALLY loved these alot. I made them with margarine and soy milk too (so I could have them because vanilla cake is my favorite!) no one could tell until they saw me eating one. I LOVED them too. Simple and delicious. Thank you Clara!
Makes about 12 cupcakes
For funfetti cupcakes
For vanilla buttercream
To make cupcakes—Preheat oven to 350F.
Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating on low.
Then add vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Fold in rainbow sprinkles.
Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
To make buttercream—In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat butter until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 5 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, beat until combined. Add more powdered sugar until you get to the consistency you want.
To make swirl buttercream - You will need gel food coloring and a disposable piping bag or Zip Lock Gallon Bag. Using a toothpick, draw a line with one color from the tip of the bag (where the piping tip goes, up the sides of the bag 3/4 way up. Do the same thing with one or more colors. Then gently put vanilla buttercream into the bag and start piping. Garnish with more rainbow sprinkles.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
In my epic cooking/baking night on Friday I also made blondies for my sweet cousin Taylor. I am usually pretty good about making sure that birthday presents get where they need to be on time, but this time, I was a little late. But the weekend allowed me to send her some special treats.
I came across Maria of The Goddess's Kitchen's post about her blondies and her rave reviews on the blondie recipe she used sealed the deal for me. I of course had to make some changes due to the ingredients I had on hand. I used a combination of white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and semi-sweet chocolate chunks (1/2 cup each) and omitted the nuts. I also used 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1 cup dark brown sugar (because I ran out of the light). I also had to cook it for about 12 minutes longer - about 37 minutes total - and they still came out pretty underdone.
The verdict: Hubby loved them lots and lots (he does tend to like most things) but he said he really really liked them. My aunt seemed to like them a lot too. I of course, have no opinion, but they smelled delicious. A few of them (large yield) are on their way to London right now, so I may have more reviews later. I am definitely keeping this on file and will make again - thanks Maria!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
These cookies were perfect for taking along on a hike. OK, so now I will tell you about this hike. I have lived in SF for 3 1/2 years now, and I have never really been hiking on Mt. Tam (Crazy!). For those of you who don't know SF, Mt. Tam (Tamalpais is real name) is just north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate and has 6,300 acres of redwood groves, oak woodlands, grassland slopes, chaparral and rocky ridges. So, one of my good friends recently started a business called Bay Treks and they now offer guided tours of 3 great hikes on Mt. Tam. We went on the Steep Ravine hike yesterday and it was awesome.
It was pretty cold and windy, and ended up raining (so it was not my ideal weather to say the least), and I ended up loosing the sole of one of my shoes, yeah that's right, I just walked out of it (so much for having nice warm, insulated waterproof boots) and had to walk back to the car with a ways to go on the lining of the boot. So funny right - like when does that happen? Anyhow, despite all of that I had a great time. The guides were great, the lunch was yummy and the nature breathtaking (few photos below). I highly recommend taking a hike with Bay Treks for anyone in the Bay Area or visiting.
Back to the baking - so I made these cookies for this trip and they received rave reviews from my fellow hikers. Some were eaten before the hike, and the rest were divided up as a post lunch treat. The recipe made a lot (even though I used a BIG cookie scoop - the one I usually use to dish my cupcake batter) - so I am sending a bunch with my hubby to England tomorrow!
adapted from Baked
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
5 ¾ cups rolled oats
¾ cups (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
¼ tsp light corn syrup
¼ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chunky peanut butter
1 cup (6 ounces) milk or semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup (6 ounces) M&M’s
In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add the oats and stir until combined.
In the bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and pale in color. Add the sugars and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
Scrape down bowl and add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth (about 20 seconds) and scraping down bowl after each edition. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Scrape down bowl and add peanut butter. Mix on low speed until just combined, add the oat mixture in three additions, mixing on low speed until just incorporated. (You don’t have to do all this bowl scraping if you use the new Beater Blade that scrapes the bowl while it mixes and works like a charm!)
Use a spatula or wooden spoon and fold in the chocolate chips and M&M’s. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate for 5 hours. (I did it for and 1 ½ and they were still delicious)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use ice cream scoop to scoop out dough into 2- tablespoon size balls on two baking sheets – 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine took about 15-17), rotating pans halfway through baking time. Let cool on pans for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Pictures from the hike below:
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The Baked Brownie from Baked
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.
Friday, March 20, 2009
OK, I'll stop - you probably think I have stock.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I got the idea from googling for margarita cupcakes - which I have made with great success and reviews I might add - from Urbanhonking.com. The pictures looked good and the recipe easy, so I filed it away in my recipes to try stash. I would highly recommend this recipe.
They have a nice flaky crust that is slightly sweet, and the filling is nice and goey but firm - the same texture as a good lemon bar (its cousin). These really did taste like margaritas. The modifications I made to the recipe was to add orange zest and tequilla - which I think really transformed them from lime bars to margarita bars. I think Jimmy Buffet would approve!
(Adapted from Urbanhonking.com)
Heat oven to 350-degrees.
1 Cup all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup salted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 Cup confectioners sugar
Combine above ingredients in stand mixer or by hand and press evenly into a square 8x8 pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
Beat together in a stand mixer or with hand beaters:
1 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lime juice
Zest of two limes
Zest of one small orange or 1/2 large orange
2 tsp. Tequilla
1 drop green food coloring
When crust is done baking, pour lime mixture over crust and bake 20-25 minutes more.The filling puffs during baking, but flattens when cooled. They should be browned on top.
Cool completely before covering and refrigerating overnight (for best results, though can be made for same day). Dust with powdered sugar. Sprinkle sparingly with flaky sea salt (like Maldon). Choose a salt with large flakes, or the granules will soak into the bars. A little goes a long way!
Makes about 16 squares; You can double the recipe and make it in a 9x13 pan.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Thank you Thank you Thank you Jaci for Baked and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (Photos from Amazon).
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This cake was super yum. Super duper yummy. This week's TWD recipe was French Yogurt Cake and was chosen by Liliana of My Cookbook Addition. Thank you Liliana! As the host, you can get the recipe from Liliana here.
I did share the cake! As you can see from the picture above, I shared a lot of it (I did not eat it all I promise). One of the partner's at my firm was hosting a dinner party and I brought along this cake and the amzing S'more bars from Baking Bites (I will do a separate post about these). They both were a big hit.
My adaptations to the Dorie recipe was that I made two batches so that I could make a nice and tall birthday cake with four layers. As suggested I made them in 9 inch pans and then sliced the cake in half to make four layers. I also added lemon extract to the batter because after tasting it I thought it could use an additional lemon boost. That's it. The rest was as advertised. I frosted the cake with a delicous lemon buttercream frosting (using Nucoa Margarine of course) that I got from Good Things Catered. So good - in fact - I think I will go have another piece!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, applesauce, vanilla extract, and sugar.