Thursday, November 26, 2009

You call it dessert, I call it breakfast.

I love apples and apples are such a comforting, autumn-y food. I went for a walk and ended up at the grocery store the other day. I went in and bought a few apples and some oats and then went home and tossed things together. The result was an apple crumble.

Apple Crumble

3 apples (I used Fuji)
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 T Ground Cinnamon (That's also 1 1/2 t)
2 T Flour

1 cup Flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 T Ground Cinnamon
1 t Ground Cloves
1 stick/4 oz Cold butter; cubed.

Preheat oven to 350.
Core and slice apples to about 1/4 inch thickness. You can peel them if you want, but I'm of the opinion that the peel is the best part, so I left it on.
Toss together apples, sugar, lemon juice, 1/2 T of cinnamon, and 2T of flour. Pour into an ungreased 8X8 pan. Mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Add cubes of butter to flour mixture. Using your hands rub the butter into the flour mixture, leaving small, pea sized bits of butter throughout the mixture. Spread this mixture over the top of the apples and bake for about 45 minutes.

I ate some of it the night I made it, but I mostly ate it for breakfast the next couple of days. Put it in the microwave for about 25 seconds and you're in apple heaven. It's good cold, too. Honestly, it reminds me of my mom's crumble topped apple pie, without the fuss of making the crust. The whole thing takes less than a half hour to throw together and then you just have to wait for it to bake.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New York Cake Convention

I made a cake for a contest posted on the Daring Bakers forums, the Daring Kitchen, in conjunction with the US Confection Connection, is putting on the contest for the NY Cake Convention. The cake had to be the decorator's interpretation of Autumn. The winning cake gets to go to the convention in NY, expenses paid.

For me, Autumn is all about the colors, the boldly painted leaves on the ground. Mostly, they need to be on the ground so that I can step on them. Also: TURKEYS. I love turkeys. Cartoon-y turkeys, though; real turkeys are ugly.

Here is my cake!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pomegranate Cuppycakes

I love cupcakes. I love pomegranates. So, obviously my first response to seeing them in the store was, "Oh my God, I need to make pomegranate cupcakes!"

I used chiffon cake as the "base"; I feel like chiffon is the blank canvas of the cake world. The first attempt did not go well. I used POM juice and added some lemon zest and when the cupcakes came out they did not taste anything like pomegranate and did tasted suspiciously of lemon. I decided to reduce the remainder of the bottle of POM and see if I could get more flavor out of less weight. The second attempt was a success! The cupcake was light and airy and had a definite pomegranate taste. I didn't add any food coloring and the cake came out a strange shade of brown rather than reddish or pink.

Pomegranate Cuppycakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes

125g Cake Flour
100g Sugar
3g Salt
6g Baking Powder

62g Vegetable Oil
75g Egg Yolk
71g POM Syrup
12g Water

125g Egg Whites (Room temperature is best.)
62g Sugar
1g Cream of Tartar

Preheat oven to 375°F
Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients. While whisking the dry ingredients, slowly pour in the wet ingredients. (If you've made chiffon cake before, this will be slightly thicker than usual, due to the thicker pomegranate mixture.) Set aside. Whip egg white until foamy and then slowly add the sugar and cream of tartar in a steady stream while the mixer is still running. Whip to a stiff, glossy peak. Now... it is time for... THE SACRIFICE. Ahem. Take a small amount of the whipped egg whites and mix it into your flour mixture. You'll be destroying a lot of the hard won air bubbles in the whites, but you're also making it so that the flour mixture will more easily accept the rest of the whites. After you have this mixed together, gently fold in the rest of the whipped egg whites. Immediately portion batter into cupcake pans and bake about 18 minutes.

After allowing them to cool you can frost them however you see fit. I made a simple flat icing by putting some powdered sugar in a bowl and then adding enough water to get the consistency I wanted. After pouring a bit on the cupcakes, I sprinkled on some large granular vanilla sugar.

I love the texture of chiffon cake.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I love Halloween. It's not my favorite holiday, but it's up there. Everything about it delights me, the colors, the food, the gatherings, the kids and dressing up and I love giving out candy. Last year was my first year giving out candy since I moved to Portland and I was so disappointed by the lack of visitors. I'm from a small town, so we essentially had the whole town to trick-or-treat, it wasn't a "in the neighborhood" thing, and I found out last year that since I didn't live in a neighborhood with many children, I didn't get many visitors. This past summer we moved into a more family neighborhood; I swear there are 20 kids under 12 on our block alone and it's all houses, not apartments. So, I was very, very pleased this year, especially because about 75% of the kiddies were about 3 years old and absolutely adorable in their costumes.

Well, the boys that I live with had a D&D night on Halloween, and per tradition, I made dessert. I asked the boys what they wanted and got two answer: "Fruit tart!" from my boy and, "Cupcakes. No! Brownies!" from our roommie. So, I made both. I cringed a little at the hot house berries at the store, but I couldn't help myself and grabbed a thing of golden raspberries to go with the typical reds and strawberries.

I decided on cream cheese brownies so that I could dye the cream cheese orange! (I apologize in advance for the bouncing around of my measurement types. I have not gotten around to measuring the cups and so forth out on the recipes I've found in books and online.)

Cream Cheese Brownies
Preheat oven to 350 and lightly butter an 8"x8" pan.

For the cream cheese Swirl
6 ounces Cream Cheese
4 T Butter
1/2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
2 T AP Flour
1 t Vanilla Extract

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer if that's what you use, until smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add sugar gradually until well blended. Scrape the sides. Add the eggs, with the mixer running, one at a time, allowing it to become incorporated before the next addition. Mix in flour and vanilla. Add orange food coloring if desired!

For the brownies
6 ounces Bitter Sweet Chocolate
3 T Butter
1/2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 c AP Flour
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Salt
2 t Vanilla (That's what the recipe says, but I just splash what looks about right in)
1 C Chocolate Chips
(You can put nuts in if you want, I did not.)

Melt the chocolate and sugar together and mix together; it will almost be like ganache. You can use a double boiler, I used the microwave. Allow to cool slightly. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until slightly thickened. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then, mix in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts, if you're going that route).

Pour about half the brownie batter into your prepared pan, add the cream cheese mixture in an even layer and then drop spoon fulls of brownie batter on top. With a toothpick or knife marble the top of the brownie. Bake for 40 minutes.

Fruit Tart

Pate Sucree (The tart shell)
I've misplaced my recipe, so from Foodbeam

300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g icing sugar (Powdered)
60g ground almonds
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (I used 1 T vanilla bean paste, it's easier to get a hold of and cheaper)
2 eggs
500g flour
1 tsp fleur de sel

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and vanilla bean and incorporate completely. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between additions. Stir in the flour and salt. Do not over work the dough, you don't want the gluten to develop very much. This dough will be fairly crumbly. Divide the dough into 3 pieces, mold into disks and wrap in plastic. You'll only need one, so you can put the other 2 in the freezer for up to a month! This way you don't have to go to the trouble next time! The third, you will use today. Place it in the fridge and allow to become firm. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper until it is large enough to fill your tart pan. Return to fridge and let chill for a couple hours. Pull out of the fridge and fit into your tart pan. Franny at Foodbeam does a great job with photos to show exactly how to do this right. Allow your tart to chill again for at least 20 minutes. You're letting the gluten relax so that when you bake it, the dough doesn't shrink. Once it's chilled, heat your oven to 350 and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Pastry Cream
6 Eggs Yolks
100g Sugar
40g Cornstarch
500 ml Milk
1 T Vanilla Bean Paste

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until light in color and fluffy. Heat milk and vanilla to a scald and remove from heat. While whisking slowly add hot milk to egg mixture, you're tempering the eggs here, and after whisking in about half the milk to the eggs, add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining milk. Put on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, it will become thick very fast and you must stir constantly, scraping the bottom to prevent burning. Allow to boil for 2 minutes to cook out the starchiness. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, put the plastic directly on the cream to prevent a skin. Put in the fridge and allow to cool completely.

To assemble the tart you'll need to cut up some fruit or use whole berries. I usually use strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries if they're available. The boy often makes me use hot house berries to feed his fruit tart addiction. Spread your chilled pastry cream into your cooled, baked pastry shell until it comes to just under the top of your shell. Layer your fruit on top and enjoy!