Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD: White Loaves

So....where were we?

It's been awhile since I've blogged. A long while. There was a new dog, and then a new job, and, well, you know how it goes.

I was excited to see the new book, but worried whether I would have enough time to participate. It is helpful that there are only two recipes a month. And now that I've made the first pick (hosted by the lovely Laurie and Jules) I know I've got the baking bug again.

I'm a little rusty in the kitchen. Pretty sure my KitchenAid mixer gave me a dirty look when I put it back into service. Something along the lines of "where have you been?" But once underway I remembered how I love everything about yeasty breads - how they smell, how they feel, how they are little chemistry experiments you get to watch change and grow. You're making something that is alive.

It's alive

I followed the directions, and thanks to the folks who commented on their projects I decided to make a regular loaf and a cinnamon swirl loaf. I mixed together some cinnamon and brown sugar and that turned out looking nice and tasting great the same day.


In fact both tasted great the same day - it was the day after that they lost their luster. Maybe I didn't wrap them well enough and they dried out. Or perhaps I'm used to a heartier bread than this recipe provided (I don't remember the last time I had white bread). Overall I thought they were okay, but probably won't make them again.

Does that mean I think this first recipe a failure? Definitely not. It just reaffirmed my love of baking and my glee of being back in the group. I'm looking forward to the journey through Baking with Julia and to getting to know all of you along the way. Bake on!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TWD: Cranberry Upside-Downer

I know it's been awhile. Once again I forgot my password to sign into the blog. Once again I've been busy. I tried to join in a few recipes last month. I even bought ingredients. But the summer just got away from me.

I was excited about this pick, by Sabrina of Superfluous, but I could not find any cranberries. Cherries seemed like an excellent idea. Everything was coming together beautifully, though I did worry about not having 8 inch pans. I went with 9 inch, and tossed a little extra into the bottom of the pan.

Everything smelled great, and flipping the cake went well (nothing stuck to the bottom). Sadly the cake doesn't look very pretty.

I'll let it cool a bit more to see how it tastes. No biggie - it's all a learning experience. And with any luck it will be tasty and I can keep it all to myself.

Sorry so short this week. Will do better going forward!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TWD: Chewy Chunky Blondies

I know the rest of the country has been dealing with extreme heat, but here in "sunny" San Diego we've barely seen the sun all month. This has been just fine with me, as I live in a little house with little windows making it very difficult to cool down at night. While others complain I like the silver lining of being able to bake in the summer. And to enjoy hot tea in the morning, but that is another story.

Sometimes there is no better therapy than baking. Baking is good for the soul. And my soul has needed a little TLC this week. Everything is fine with me. No complaints, actually. But friends past and present have suffered great losses recently, and I feel for them. Scratch that - I ache for them. I ache and I am frustrated at not being able to help relieve their pain.

So you can see why I am so happy to be able to fire up the oven.

These little gems, chosen by Nicole from Cookies on Friday were a big hit at the office today. I occasionally lead meetings with my co-workers, and it is always nice to win them over first with a tasty treat. Too bad for those who don't like coconut (with all due respect, what is wrong with you people?). Apparently these looked and/or smelled so good that a non-coconut person broke down and gave them a try. Sadly, he tasted the coconut in them, and a perfectly good Blondie square was wasted. Sigh.

These were super easy to make, and although mine seemed to bake forever they ended up being perfectly done. If I need a quick and easy dessert to take somewhere, this will be high on the list.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD: Tarte Noire

Hello all - this will be quick. I have a weird habit of participating, enjoying what I make, and then totally forgetting to post. UGH!

This should be an interesting summer as I have once again made two boo boos. At least I got the right recipe this time (whew!) but messed up both parts to it. I used regular sugar for the crust rather than confectioner's sugar. The other mistake was not getting the butter to the correct room temp before putting it into the ganache. The result - not quite mixed ganache, which isn't very pretty. The most upsetting bit about this is my attention to detail is quite good, if I do say so myself. Or at least it is at work. Somehow I'm making some stupid mistakes in the baking department.

I went super bittersweet on the chocolate, for reasons that escape me, so this is a bit too much. I definitely needed the whipped cream to offset the taste of the chocolate. Were I to make this again I would use a milder chocolate, or perhaps one with a flavor (a little chocolate and coconut sounds pretty darn good).

My thanks (and apologies) to dharma girl at bliss: towards a delicious life for this week's pick. It would be a show stopper dessert in someone else's hands. I'll give this a try again another day, correcting my errors (I hope!).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD: Dressy Chocolate Loafcake

This cake was a challenge for me. It looked easy. I've been busy lately so easy was perfect for a birthday cake I needed to make for someone at work. And this could have been easy too, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had a pan a little longer than suggested. This made getting the baked cake out of the pan and flipping it a little difficult. I should have waited longer than the 5 minutes Dorie suggested for it to cool (I almost lost the whole thing at least twice). I was in a hurry. This would be my downfall the following morning as well.

I didn't quite have the correct plate size. You can see that I've already lost a corner of the cake. I found the raspberry filling a little runny.

Then came the cutting. This is where I made my biggest mistake. Being in a hurry led to the leaning tower of chocolate cake. Also known as "the cake too ugly to serve." At this point, both out of frustration and a lack of time, I wrapped the thing up and went to work. No birthday cake for you, co-worker!

Hating to let a perfectly good cake go to waste, I decided to try again, only this time on a surface that was appropriate for the cake.

After some shaving (and eating the extra bits - yum!) I had a cake that was almost presentable. I cut off the ends to make them even and smaller, and shaved the top to even it out. I hoped with the icing no one would notice how uneven and unattractive the layers were.

I had some delicious left overs. Overall I liked this cake, but as I'm not a big fan of chocolate and raspberry (I know - what's wrong with me) I probably wouldn't make it as is again. A different filling, with more time to cool before taking out of the pan, and better knife skills - I could be persuaded!

So thank you, Amy at Amy Ruth Bakes for this week's pick. Want the recipe - visit Amy for the details!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Color me Embarrassed!

I almost didn't post this, but since I'm pretty sure I don't know any of you in real life, and you're all so kind, I decided to admit my mistake.

You see, once the month's recipes are announced I go through the book and mark each one and decide which, if any, I will do. This process works great 99% of the time. This month I marked the wrong recipe, so while all of you were making "Tender Shortcakes" (page 423) I was making "Devilish Shortcakes" (on page 425).

Perhaps it is time to get new glasses......?

You'd think I'd have noticed. I even left a comment on the P & Q and darn if it doesn't say "Tender Shortcakes." And I spent the week looking at the picture for the Tender Shortcakes thinking they looked tasty.

How did I discover my mistake? Looking at other blogs while my shortcakes were baking. "My, those don't look very dark," I thought at the first blog to pop up on my Reader. The next one looked a little pale as well. Then, as they say, the penny dropped. In disbelief I ran to the book for confirmation of what I already knew. Ugh!

This is so not the blog I was planning on writing! My deepest apologies to Cathy of The Tortefeasor (a blog I absolutely LOVE) for messing this up.

That all said, here are some pictures from my adventure. At least I'll be prepared when someone chooses this recipe!

This recipe does the 1/3 cup drop. I made the whole recipe (I couldn't figure out how to halve an egg). Some are in the freezer waiting for more strawberries. Some are wrapped up in the fridge. Some are in my tummy.

I can't even tell you how much I love strawberries. LOVE them!

Yes, they do look a little like turds. They smell a LOT better though.

I cheated and used canned whipped cream. At that point what did I have to lose!

These are delish. I highly recommend them, especially if you have left over strawberries (not a problem I ever have, but just in case you do).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TWD: Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie

The timing of this recipe was perfect. I needed a little something to bring to a viewing get-together for the series finale of "Lost" and the tropical ingredients seemed perfect. I come from a long line of ice cream eaters, so it seemed even more perfect.

Of course, just like in "Lost" there was a complication (no Smoke Monster, luckily). I love bananas in bread, on sandwiches with peanut butter, in my cereal. But I simply do not like frozen bananas. Not one bit. It may go back to a "traumatic dessert" experience when I was a kid. My Mom would often take me to the Zoo (it's handy to have a "world famous" Zoo in one's backyard. Even more handy for my Mom since kids under 16 had free admission back then). I was fairly young and saw the advertisements for chocolate covered frozen bananas. They looked delicious! After an afternoon of whining, my Mom finally caved in. I took one bite, and BLECH! I don't know what my small child self thought it would taste like, but I was having none of it. My Mom couldn't have been less pleased! Even then stuff at the Zoo cost a lot of money, so she couldn't have been happy about this tyke turning up her whiny nose at the frozen banana. I distinctly remember her getting very quiet, and not wanting to eat the rest of mine.

Haven't had a chocolate covered frozen banana since.

Because of my aversion I opted to not have any bananas on the bottom of the pie and only mixed one banana into the ice cream. Even so I thought the banana flavor was too much. If I were to make it again, I'd just pick a really yummy flavor, or make one, and have it and the crust.

Because that crust was oh-so-good! Definitely the star of the dessert. A little difficult to get out of my brand-new Giada Pie Pan from Target, but once properly defrosted, absolutely the best thing about this pie!

I thought it needed a little something on top, so I added a bit of whipped cream. That did the trick!

If I needed a pretty easy dessert to take somewhere, I would definitely make this again, with the changes listed above. Or I might just make the crust and eat it on its own (only kind of kidding about that idea). Either way, thanks to Spike at spike.bakes for choosing this recipe (it all made sense once I learned Spike is from Massachusetts. One of my most favorite things about New England - an ice cream stand on every corner, and they all seem to have a line of people - day or night, no matter the weather).

PS - Any "Lost" fans out there? What did you think of the finale?? I LOVED it. Cried like a baby at the end, mind you, and have felt like I've had a "Lost" hangover ever since, but loved it!