Archive | April, 2011

Remiss, Busy Eating

8 Apr

Hello food audience.  I have been remiss in letting you in on all the delicious sweets I have been eating.  Moriah was on baking “sabbatical” but I was clearly not on eating sabbatical.  Travels for weddings have taken me out of the country on adventures to England, Europe and Panama.  The focus of this will be on Europe and England; the wedding I went to in Panama boasted tons of desserts that I was too distracted to try.  For shame. 

In France I enjoyed rich hot chocolate with *gasp* what I think was heavy cream.  The chocolate was not too forward and complimented the creaminess of the milk fat.  It was delightful to sip while watching Parisians scuttle by in the rare snow accumulation we encountered in December.  The pan au chocolates we ate on a regular basis in boulangaries that dotted the city were fresh and buttery.  Worthy of mention, however, I recently found that a local Olympia, Washington bakery called San Francisco Street Bakery delivers exactly what I adore: loads of chocolate evenly distributed from side to side and from front to tip.  It is a rare statement to say that the French do things in moderation, but in this situation I prefer the local chocolate croissant with the promise of chocolate in every bite.  A nod to another Puget Sound favorite: twice baked croissants at Bakery Nouveau. What the French did nail is the little macaroons, not to be confused with the coconut drop cookies.  I learned from the bakers at Bakery Nouveau that macaroons showcase the skills of the pastry chef or baker.  I am inclined to agree. My travel companion and I purchased these little sandwich-like cookies in mocha, chocolate and strawberry whenever we came across them.  In Belgium, how could I forget the Belgian waffles. They are prevalent at little walk up store fronts dedicated to purveying waffles, much like an Orange Julius or Mrs. Field’s Cookies in the mall. We were in Brussels and just outside the lovely train station there were a few options. Chocolate dipped was tempting, but I went with plain. The waffles were slightly crisp and sweet on the outside and soft on the inside. They hand them over warm and delicious in a piece of tissue and you walk and eat your toasty street food, which keeps your fingers nice and warm: Now that is comfort food.

Whilst in jolly COLD England, the two of us visited, twice in a stay of two days, a cupcake shop down the street from our hotel.  Peggy Porschen The pink shop awning automatically induced thoughts of delicious cupcakes.  The two I tried were banoffee and the sticky toffee pudding.  Both had lovely cream cheese icing with a light caramel flavor.  The banoffee was banana and toffee while the sticky toffee pudding was a rich, dense date cake with a creamy toffee filling.  Let us just say it is lucky we were on foot a great deal to balance the calorie intake on this holiday.

I have just purchased a KitchenAid stand mixer, so I intend to report progress on that relationship post-haste.

~Lucienne

Buttercream Frosting: Try Again

6 Apr

It’s been a long time (long time)
I shouldn’a left you (left you)
Without a dope recipe to bake to (bake to)

How about a cheesecake recipe for that Old School Lunch-esque song reference? (R.I.P. Aaliyah)

Last weekend, after a two month baking “sabbatical”, I decided to dust off my stand mixer and set out copious amounts of butter and eggs  for a Vanilla Buttercream comeback cake.  The recipe was simple and with over a dozen eggs and nearly two packs of butter, this cake was a sure thing.

Only, it wasn’t.

I followed the cake recipe almost exactly, deviating slightly with an overdose of PAM Baking, which made the crumb less delicate than anticipated. Still, the cake was fine. Flavorful, a little dense, but yummy. The frosting was a completely different buttery beast.

As I removed my yellow cake from the oven, I thought I was golden. This is the point in the story where if you were reading a textbook, there would be an insert titled “Moriah’s Troubled History with Non-Cream Cheese Based Frostings”. It would share the tale of me fudging up Martha Stewart’s favorite Mrs. Milman’s Chocolate Frosting recipe, which calls for three ingredients. You can watch the video of sweet Mrs. Milman effortlessly whipping up the perfect chocolate frosting, with only two ingredients (Martha’s folks added the light corn syrup), then consider the fact that I messed it up so badly that I had to salvage the cake with a can of Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy.

Back to this weekend.  The frosting recipe instructs you to heat nine egg whites with three cups of sugar over simmering water for about ten minutes, then whip the egg and sugar on high until it holds medium-firm peaks. Next you add six sticks of butter, one tablespoon at a time into a mixer.Then it is pretty much whip until it’s fluffy.

In true rookie fashion, I started frosting the cakes before really tasting the frosting. Bad idea. It was greasy, ugly, and fatty without the redeeming delicious sweetness that is expected from a butter-based treat –  a total frosting failure. After my taste tester suggested we save the “frosting” to put on toast, the baker left the kitchen.  My taste tester then proceeded to scrape the icky frosting from the cake to salvage part of the dessert and suggested that we get some frosting from the store to save the cake.  Sweetie, and Betty, to the rescue.

I need to investigate where I went wrong. Since the cookbook I used has a collection of goodies, I will definitely give the recipe a second change. Perhaps with a half batch and confectioners sugar on hand just in case.

It is a good reminder that baking is an experiment and I am still a novice.  In the end there are much worse things to do-over. Hopefully next time, I will stumble across a tasty mistake rather than a colossal bowl of butter.