Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peachy Keen Rhubarb Galette : TWD

After the laments of other members of the lack of local rhubarb, I realized that I'd taken the plethora at my local store for granted. So while I was still reasonably priced, I decided to pick up a bunch for this week's Tuesday with Dorie challenge of a summer galette.

To balance out the tart rhubarb, I opted for sweet peaches. I had lofty goals of parboiling, skinning and slicing up some fresh peaches, but time wasn't on my side this week. So in the name of speed, I opted for some where the nice folks at dole did all the work for me. Shh, don't tell anyone.

I loved this pie crust recipe when we used it last time, and was excited to see it in the rotation again. It came together easily, and I let it cool in the fridge while we cooked and ate dinner (pizza on the bbq... yum...). It rolled out quick, and I tried not to eat too much of it before spreading it with a thin layer of apricot preserves and grahm cracker crumbs.

The peaches and rhubarb softened nicely as the crust came out a nice light golden at the 25 minute mark. I was able to add most of the custard, and popped it in for another 14 minutes.

It came out perfect, albeit a little delicate. There was no way I was going to be able to transfer the thing intact to a cooling rack. So I served it up warm with a generous scoup of vanilla bean ice cream.

The galette was a big hit, the crisp buttery crust giving way to a softly sweet with just a hint of tart rhubarb. Two thumbs up!

The recipe for Dorie's Summer Fruit Galette Can be found over at Michelle in Colorado Springs' blog, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Clownin Around in Wilton Course 1, week 3....

Despite last week's score of affordable cherries in mass quantities, I fully admit to keeping a small stash of canned cherry pie filling, for a few reasons. One - its nigh impossible to find tart cherries anywhere near here, and two- The canned filling is a key ingredient in a few of my favorite recipes, and none of them happen to be pies!

The first comes from a recipe I discovered when trying to find the 'perfect' birthday cake recipe. I figured, what would be better than an amaretto style cake, a mix of cherries, almonds, and chocolate? A little bit of digging, and Cast Sugar came to my rescue.

When we were told we could bring a batch of cupcakes for our third week, I jumped at the opportunity to make some nice single serving desserts that I could bring to work and pawn off on coworkers.

I doubled Cast Sugar's recipe and modified it to the following:

Amaretto Cherry Chocolate Cake (adapted from Cast Sugar)

1 c. butter
3 c. bakers sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. orange extract
1 c. good unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 c. cake flour (3 1/2 TBS corn starch added to a measuring cup, then add All Purpose flour to make 3 1/2 cups cake flour)
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
2 (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line 36 cupcake wells with papers.

Cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well blended. Add almond and orange extracts and beat well. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined.

By hand, stir the cake flour (or all purpose/corn starch mix), baking soda and salt together. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the cherry pie filling. Pour the batter into the tins.

Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool.

Chocolate Almond Buttercream (adapted from Wilton)

1 cup solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1 teaspoon almond Extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
3-4 tablespoons water

Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler : TWD

I'm starting to fear that my friend Joe has infiltrated Tuesdays with Dorie, offering bribes to hosts in hopes that they will pick cobbler week after week.

I like cobbler.

But my like pales in comparison to Joe's downright passion for the baked delight. So much so that he has threatened (more than once) to not let me visit without a cobbler in hand.

Thankfully, they are pretty easy to make, in the spectrum of baked goods. So with a looming BBQ in the distance, I was glad to see a cobbler assigned for this week. I was even more excited when my supermarket had Northwest Cherries on sale for $1.99 a pound. Lets just say I all but added cherries one by one to the bag until I was just at the 5 lbs max. And then I went back later in the week knowing they'd be sold out, but seeking a raincheck... then I was downright giddy when the cashier accidentally gave me TWO rainchecks instead of one. Lets just say I hightailed it for the door before she realized why I was so happy.

I've never baked much with rhubarb, but the tart veggie sounded like the perfect accompaniment to the plethora of sweet cherries. So I kept true to Dorie's recipe, aside from doubling it to fill a 9x11 pan for the party, and for lack of having it onhand, used all white flour instead of white and whole wheat.

The batter came out stickier than I'm guessing Dorie meant for it to... there was no way I was going to be able to form 'biscuits' from it, even after adding a little more flour. So I opted for the method I tend to use with another of my cobbler crust and just kind of glop it on in an even layer. Hey. Its rustic. Cobbler is a very rustic dish.

The cobbler baked up in 45 minutes, coming out a nice golden hue. I only had a chance to snap a picture of the whole thing baked before heading out to the party where it was summarily devoured. Joe and everyone else was in 7th heaven. Multiple sets of thumbs up all around, I'll definitely keep the rhubarb combo in mind when I go to redeem my rainchecks.

The recipe for Dorie's Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler Can be found over at Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

PS- if you are a member of TWD and are approached with a bribe of a game of naked twister by the gentleman at the top of the post, just say no. ;o)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chocolate Coffee Pudding : TWD

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Don Quixote de la Mancha

You would think something like chocolate pudding would be stress-free. I figured 'hey. that's not too hard. Let me whip it up before cooking dinner.'

Well, the actual pudding was relatively easy to make. I just should have heeded the other reviewers that commented their food processors were too small, and double check my own. I figured mine would be big enough since its a pretty good size. I was blending along, oblivious to the construction of the processor, and that once it gets up over the edge of the blade attachment, it can leak.


I quickly transferred everything from the processor to the blender, where everything DID fit, and finished it up. It doesn't appear to be any worse for wear, though in the second cooking it was a bit foamy, it settled down when I added the chocolate and butter.

I decided to keep pretty true to the recipe, except for a little bit of punch I opted for some Starbucks coffee liqueur instead of vanilla. The taste isn't too noticeable in the finished product, but overall it is a deep rich chocolaty delite.

We give the pudding 2 thumbs up, though next time I think I'll opt to do all of the work in the blender.

The recipe for Dorie's Chocolate Pudding Can be found over at Its Melissas Kitchen, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wilton Course 1, week 2....

With the goal of making my cakes a little less 'rustic' looking, I signed up to take the 4 week Wilton cake decor class at my local Michael's. The first week was all about how to make the icing, all the crap we'd need to be lugging to and from class, etc.

This week, we had to come with a cake ready to decorate, not to mention 1/2 my kitchen in tools to accomplish this. I'm not a big fan of the 'shortening and powdered sugar' method of butter cream, but its what they recommend for the class, so I tried my best to ignore the scads of shortening being dumped into my mixer and focus on the bigger picture of attaining prettier cakes. And heck, the shortening + sugar + water + flavor + meringue method is downright quick to mix up than the whole boiling syrup and raw eggs.

Anyhow, After the requisite star, letter, rose base, and wavy line practice, we set about decorating the cake. This is where my perfectionist tendencies kicked in, and by the end of the 2 hour class, I had only completed 1/2 my rainbow. So I had to do my homework to finish it up.

On the whole, I think it turned out ok. I was at a loss for writing until I talked to my husband, who while I was at class, took our Lab mix to the vet because of an inner eyelid problem. While she can't have any cake, She was apparently a very good girl at the vets office, so the cake is 'dedicated' to her.

Inside the standard Wilton butter cream is a three layer "Perfect Party Cake" from Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan in lemon with rasberry filling.

Wilton Buttercream Icing

(Stiff Consistency)
1 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon Flavor Extract (I used wilton Butter Flavoring)
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons water
In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.

Medium Consistency - for rainbow & clouds - Add 1 Tsp water per cup of stiff frosting and mix.

Thin Consistency - for Frosting the cake and lettering - Add 2 Tsp water per cup of stiff frosting and mix.

Perfect Party Cake, adapted from Dorie Greenspan:

2 1/4 cups cake flour (1 cup cake flour = 1 cup all purpose - 2 Tbs, add 2 Tbs cornstarch)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated Meyer lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 4 4-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl.Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the buttermilk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the buttermilk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the four pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

(red, white and) Blueberry Pie : TWD

I married into a family of blueberry pie lovers. So while a blueberry pie is nothing new to my repertoire, I'm always on the lookout for new takes on the family favorite.

I originally tried Dorie's Blueberry Pie recipe about 3 weeks ago for an annual BBQ my friends host. It gave me the perfect chance to 'test drive' it before it came up in the challenge rotation, and I was then able to perfect it for a 4th of July BBQ we hosted this weekend.

The first time I made the pie, I went for the full amount of citrus and a latticed top. While it was tasty and well received, I decided it was a little too tart for my liking. Not to mention the juice bubbling up over the lattice edges detracting from it's visual appeal.

This weekend, with these notes in mind, I opted for about 1/3 the amount of zest and a regular full top crust. Practice makes perfect, because this weekend's version to die for.

My only downfall was in the calculation of berries. Since they tend to shrink down when baked, I tend to pile in the berries. So for this pie I mixed in 1 full bag (16 oz) of frozen blueberries, 1 partial bag, and most of a pint of fresh blueberries I had in the fridge. This ended up being a little too much, so I put the extras in my standby oven cups and topped them with a bit of leftover crust.

The pie was a huge hit all around, and I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the slices before they were devoured. This version will definitely make it into my blueberry pie rotation!

The recipe for Dorie's Double Crusted Blueberry Pie Can be found over at South in Your Mouth, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cheddar Cranberry Scones : TWD

I admit that I was quite giddy when they opened up the new 'super' stop and shop only a couple miles from my house. Aisle upon aisle of tasty treats, fresh produce, meats, etc. It made the other two grocers in the area look wimpy and outdated in comparison.

Sadly, I must now report that the 'super' store has failed me. I circled the aisles three times, and still could not find a package of dried apples. My frozen veggies were going soft, so rather than track down a stock boy who's worked there all of 1 month (time the stores been open) to try and find some, I opted for the next best dried fruit I could think of. Cranberries.

Other than the lack of apples, this week's recipe was pretty straightforward and came together quickly. I liked the idea of mixing the 'sweet' of the fruit with the savory of the cheese. But I couldn't help also wondering how tasty a cheddar jalapeno scone might be. Maybe next time.

I opted for the quick 'spoon' method of portioning, and took them out at the 22 minute mark. They sat until this morning where I warmed one up a bit in the toaster oven, topping it with butter and some strawberry jam. Two thumbs up for taste and ease!

This week's recipe can be found over at The Floured Apron.