Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Baking Bible: Gingersnaps

This week's baking assignment couldn't be more quick and easy. The dough gets mixed up in minutes flat, and the cookies themselves take maybe half an hour to bake all three batches. The gingersnaps are crackly and chewy with a just enough heat from the ginger. My kind of baking--spectacular results for little effort.


January 24, 2015
Name of Cookie: Make-Again Gingersnaps
Occasion: Getting back into the swing of baking
Constituents: gingersnaps made with golden sugar and lyle's golden syrup

It is the presence of the golden sugar and the golden syrup that really make these gingersnaps stand apart. They give the cookies a bit of a caramel edge that highlights the butter. Then the ginger steps in warms up your mouth.

Ginger is great for digestion as well as an immune booster so hey--maybe these cookies are kinda healthy!


I stretched out the making of these cookies in order to fit my schedule (Eliot's schedule, really). Everything got measured and set aside during his afternoon nap and I mixed the batter in the evening after the young sir went to bed. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but it can sit for up to 24 hours. I took advantage of that and left the dough until the bugbear's morning nap the next day. Everything was finished and cleaned up before he woke, and there was only his mom and dad noshing on warm cookies to hint that anything interesting happened while he slept.

Mark loved the gingersnaps, and immediately poured himself a glass of milk as he said these were the perfect cookie for milk. He also invited me to make these anytime I wanted. Or, anytime he wanted. I told him that after this bake through is over we can put the gingersnaps into heavy rotation.


Monday, January 05, 2015

The Baking Bible: Chocolate Cuddle Cake

I mentioned in my Frozen Pecan Tart post that I was sad we were baking a tart, and it came out in the comments that it was because I'd rather bake a cake. I mean, cake is my thing. Hence my name.

So here we are, baking a cake, and I was grumpy about it. Is there no pleasing me?

PS: The cake is really good, so I am not complaining anymore.


December 31, 2014
Name of Cake: New Year's Eve Cake!
Occasion: NYE!
Constituents: 9x3 inch chocolate chiffon cake, sides frosted in midnight ganache and top frosted with caramel whipped cream

PS: the whipped cream is amazing. Just make that, if you don't want to make anything else.

First up, I made some modifications. There is an actual recipe for a ganache to frost the sides of this cake, but I decided I wasn't in the mood to make ganache. I defrosted some Midnight Ganache and YOU GUYS, I had almost forgotten how much I love Midnight Ganache. It really is the chocolate frosting of my dreams.

Also, I decided I wasn't in the mood to stabilize the whipped cream with gelatin, so I skipped all that bit. I was worried the resulting whipped cream would water out on me, but it never did. So I shrug my shoulders, and may never stabilize this whipped cream in the future.

Also, I have a 9 inch springform pan that I have been wanting to replace for years, and this recipe has finally made me do it for reals. My springform is only 2.5 inches high on the inside due to the way the bottom part of the pan fits inside the sides, which means for this recipe it wouldn't hold all the batter. Also, the pan is dark colored so the oven needs to be turned down 25 degreees to prevent overbaking. Which I always forget to do. Including this time. The cake sunk towards the end of the minimum bake time, and as Rose warns not to disturb the cake until the minimum bake time has passed, I just sat there watching my cake sink lower than the sides of the pan as well as in towards itself. Mark tried to find encouraging words about the cake when he saw it. Something about how it looked like a blood cell or a volcano.


However! The cake, despite being a tad bit rubbery due to overbaking, was still really delicious. So we ate it happily and with gusto. It was New Year's day, after all.

So on to the process pictures.

Whenever a recipe calls for blooming the cocoa powder in boiling water I do it in a jam jar. Instead of whisking, I screw the lid on tightly and shake like crazy. This time I forgot I was going to be adding oil and egg yolks to the mix (once the cocoa paste cooled) so the jar I chose was too small. More dirty dishes.


Egg yolks and vanilla. I think I needed one more egg yolk than the minimum called for to get the proper weight.


Egg whites for the meringue. I think I had one egg white too many, as usual.


Here are the two components of the chiffon cake, about to be folded together. Meringue and yolks/cocoa paste/flour. I find the best tool for the job of folding in whites to be the whisk attachment from the KitchenAid.


Batter in the prepared pan, with the rose nail sticking out the center. This is how Rose figured out how to bake a chiffon cake as a layer cake.

Since my pan wasn't tall enough I only poured in enough batter to fill the pan half full, like the recipe says. The rest of the batter I baked in two little cake pans I have.


Here is the baked chiffon cake, suspended upside down on a cooling rack. This kind of made me nervous since the last time I tried anything like this back in the Heavenly Cakes days it was a total mess.


The two cakelettes, looking a bit shaggy since I didn't grease the pans they were in.


These guys were totally overbaked because I baked them in the oven with the main cake, forgetting the oven door couldn't be opened until the minimum bake time was done. They were dry. But a liberal coating of caramel whipped cream made it so you could almost forget they were dry. We ate the little tube pan shaped cakelette around midnight then went to bed. Happy New Year!


So that Caramel Whipped Cream. I didn't take any decent photos of the making of it, but let me try to explain why it is so damn good. First you make a caramel. You only need 1/2 a cup so if there's extra, save it for a rainy day. I had maybe a spoonful extra and I saved it for a few minutes later when it was cool enough to eat. To this caramel you add some cocoa powder and cream. This made the caramel taste suspiciously like an Oreo cookie, which I would like to investigate further. Then you whip up the cream and sugar (if you follow the recipe there's a gelatin to be made, but as I said earlier I skipped that whole shenanigan) and whisk in the caramel and voila! Some of the most delicious stuff ever is now in a bowl right in front of you.

The next morning. So much sunshine!


And here you can see how my cuddle cake sunk. Less of a cuddle and more of a huddle, har har!


Happy 2015! This will be my TENTH year blogging! Wishing you all lots of cuddles and chocolate in the coming year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Baking Bible: Frozen Pecan Tart

Hello all. I skipped last week's cookies as we were down in California for the holidays, but we came home Friday night just in time to bake this week's Frozen Pecan Tart. Which made me a little sad. I am not a big fan of pecan pie, as it is usually too sweet and seems to be more about the goo than pecans which makes me wonder why they don't call it "goo pie with some nuts." Turning this goo pie into a tart, so there is a more even balance between goo and nuts is really the only logical thing to do, and made me a fan of pecan tarts. Also, even though it looks like there's lots of complicated instructions which made me even more reluctant to bake this tart, it all is rather easy and fairly quick to assemble. So it has been decided this tart may stay.


December 29, 2014
Name of Tart: Pecan Tart with Some Goo
Occasion: bake along!
Constituents: a 9 inch tart with a sweet cookie crust and goo made with golden syrup and muscovado

The first order of business: making the crust. I finally forced myself to make the crust last night, and there is no photographic evidence that I did so. It was hard enough getting up off the couch as it was.

Thankfully, the crust can be made in the food processor, and thankfully, we have a dishwasher to wash the food processor. The hardest part was processing the turbinado sugar (the crust calls for turbinado instead of boring white sugar) into fine crystals. Once that business was done, the rest of the dough gets mixed up right quick. A quick knead to get all the crumbly bits together, and the dough is off to the refrigerator to rest up and sort itself out.

if the food is on the couch does that mean i can eat it?

Then the dough is rolled out to fit the tart pan. For a 9 inch tart pan, the dough is rolled out large enough to cut a 12 inch circle. I used the bottom of a 12 inch cake pan as my template. Here comes all the funky, seemingly complicated instructions. First, the dough circle is draped over an 8 inch cake pan. Then the bottom of the tart pan is laid on top of the dough and the tart pan ring fitted over that. Then the whole contraption is flipped over, the 8 inch cake pan removed, and ta-da! The dough is nicely fitted into the tart pan. I have to say, it actually made placing the dough in the pan really easy and practically foolproof. So word to the wise: it sounds like a pain in the ass but it actually makes it all very easy.


Then the edges are folded over and you can make a nice little pattern on the edge with the back of a knife which I actually did do.


I put the tart pan into the refrigerator and both of us went to bed.

This morning the tart shell got a blind bake, and while cooling, the filling is made. This is super easy; pretty mich all of the ingredients except vanilla and the pecans are cooked on the stovetop until thickened and gooey. The pecans are arranged in the tart shell, the goo is poured over the top, more pecans are shimmied in, and then it's time to bake a tart. Done.


The tart is designed to be served frozen, so after cooling it goes into the freezer for at least a couple of hours. There is an optional chocolate drizzle that if you haven't noticed I opted not to do. The tart doesn't freeze solid so it isn't like you're eating a pecan tart popsicle; rather it is just cold and the goo is thick. I noticed as I took pictures of the tart the goo got gooier as it warmed up, so if you like your tart runny then maybe keep it at room temperature. Or maybe that was just my tart that did that...


All told, the Frozen Pecan Pie was delicious, it was easy. and it will be made again someday. Mark thinks that this was the best pecan pie/tart he's ever had, and since he's a pie guy, that's saying something.