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What are you baking these days? August 2011, part 1 [old]

Hi there, here we are in August already. This year is whipping by...
July was an unexpectedly busy month in our bakers' kitchens, given the wretched heat in many parts.
August will most likely be too. It happens to be my favorite month because my birthday falls in it, and I spend a good part of it figuring out what birthday cake to make myself (being the "it's all about me" Leo that I am). This year, I'm thinking white chocoilate and passionfruit, but am not sure in what form. Any ideas?
And in the midst of Nature's bounty of fruit and sunshine, what are you baking these days?

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  1. My birthday's in August too, but I've never made myself a cake. Maybe I'll make one this year, or maybe some cannoli. Yum.

    Yesterday I made chocolate almond cookies I found on Gojee. No flour, just almond meal. Very tasty.

    1. What I had meant to bake this weekend I didn't get around to and so this coming week or weekend I plan to make the Salted Butter Breakups, Potato Focaccia and try and get a sourdough starter to actually take hold and become a mother starter.

      1. Another Leo here ;)

        Yes, I baked a lot in July, mostly new recipes showcasing berries -- twice each of the buttermilk berry cake (epicurious), blueberry boy bait, and lemony blueberry crumble bars, plus a huge batch of Dorie's midnight crackles and some butterscotch blondies, my favorite.

        Today, onward with the berry theme: I am trying a new recipe for a blueberry lemon cream bar... yum.

        2 Replies
          1. re: twilight goddess

            All of those sound great! Have been doing weight watcher's, and avoiding baking, mostly, but may need to try some of those berry recipes:)

          2. Buttertart, whenever in August your birthday is (date, please), Happy Birthday!

            Re: the passionfruit and white chocolate cake - remember the picture I posted in the last thread of the rolled fondant cake? It was an RLB cake (though hers was nicer-looking than mine) that was a white chocolate layer cake that had raspberry buttercream between the layers. You could always use passionfruit buttercream instead.

            I made that cake for my MIL's 70th birthday, but I imagine that someone of your tender years would not want something that elaborate, involving fondant, so I suggest white chocolate buttercream instead.

            Please let me know if you would like me to post the recipe. It's long and involved, but I imagine that components are in TCB, so I could just refer you to it for the appropriate sections.

            2 Replies
            1. re: souschef

              That sounds great - thanks for the recipe search, not necessary (for me, anyway), I'll have a shuftie at ol' RLB.

              Was also thinking of jazzing up a cake I make a lot from a 1970's Joy of Cooking recipe - Blitztorte? -, in which you make the cake batter with the yolks only, and make the egg whites into a meringue, which you spread on the uncooked cake batter, stud with slivered almonds, and bake.

              Makes a sort of fast and dirty Zuger Kirschtorte (my favorite fancy cake, hmm...). You can fill it with lemon curd, or sugared fruit, or whatnot. I made it for my 23rd bday (sticks in memory because Elvis and Groucho died that week) and two friends snuck and finished it off after it had been portioned out and the rest squirrelled away for later delectation (was filled with raspberries).

              The big day is the 20th.

              1. re: buttertart

                Nigella does a cake similar called lemon meringue cake or passionfruit depending on which curd she uses. I make the lemon and it is my "go to" Easter dessert. So good.


            2. Home on Saturday from family events in Virginia and Texas with temperatures ranging from 104-106°F. I have great respect for those of you who crank up the ovens to bake in such heat. While I considered waking at 6 am to bake pies for the family reunion, I was reluctant to heat my hosts' kitchen and purchased pies at the local farmers market - buy local!
              My end-of-July baking was a Swiss Chard mini quiche appetizer for friends' birthday/retirement potluck picnic in Oakland yesterday. I am travel weary now but bake-ready for August.
              Let's all bake to celebrate August birthdays for buttertart, kathleen221, and twiight goddess - what day do we bake, buttertart? twilight goddess? kathleen221?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Cynsa

                I like the birthday baking idea! For everybody.

                1. re: Cynsa

                  ♥ that is soooo sweet! yes please. ♥

                2. I baked a ginger bundt cake yesterday - not a molasses-y gingerbread, but simply sweetened with brown sugar and spiced with dry ginger, candied ginger, and lots of fresh ginger. It's actually a bit mellower than I anticipated, but with nice pops from the fresh ginger and caramel/butterscotch notes from the brown sugar.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Caitlin.. sounds wonderful! Recipe? I can never get enough ginger...

                    1. re: rstuart

                      Sure, here it is. Like you, I can never get enough ginger. Next time, I'll probably use 1 T. dry ginger, for a greater background note. I used probably 1/2 cup fresh ginger, and as I said, it was mellower than I expected.

                      This is from buttertart's favorite, Nick Malgieri (parahrased).

                      2 1/4 cups AP flour (spoon into cup and level off)
                      2 tsp ground ginger
                      1 tsp baking powder
                      1/2 tsp baking soda
                      1/4 tsp salt
                      1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
                      1 1/4 cups brown sugar
                      1/3 cup coarsely grated or very finely chopped fresh ginger
                      4 large eggs
                      2/3 cup sour cream
                      1/3 cup candied ginger, in 1/4-inch dice

                      Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 12-cup bundt pan with oil and dust with dry breadcrumbs (I just sprayed with baking spray). Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the fresh ginger. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions. Stir in the candied ginger, then scrap the batter into the pan and smooth it out. Bake 50-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean (mine took just 45, in a convection oven). Cool on rack 10 minutes before turning out of the pan.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          It's actually from the one you eschew, Perfect Light Desserts. He calls for light sour cream, but otherwise, as you can see, it's not especially "lightened" as written, and tastes like, well, cake, not like a compromise.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Aha! I eschew that one because I'm so busy chewing on the stuff from the others. :)

                        2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Thanks so much Caitlin.. looks great. I got Perfect Light Desserts out of the library last year, and got some good recipes out of it. Like it because he doesn't use anything "fake" (besides lite cream cheese/yogourt/sour cream, which I tend to use anyway) to make healthier desserts. No black beans in the brownies...! Guess I should keep an eye out for a used copy..

                    2. Nothing so far, but I am feeling inspired to improve on some bread I bought this weekend. Our local Key Food has recently expanded and they now have an on-site bakery with a huge pizza oven, etc. We were tempted by something they call "prosciutto bread" and tried it last night. Unfortunately, there was no prosciutto involved, and I hesitate to call what we ate "bread." The texture was just awful - cottony and dry, with no chew or crust to speak of. The loaf was generously studded with genoa salami and what tasted like provolone cheese, though, and that was quite a delicious combination. So, I'm thinking of trying a batch of no-knead bread with these ingredients mixed in. Whether it's a success or not, it could not POSSIBLY be worse than what we had last night!

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: biondanonima

                        Sounds delicious! Let us know how your attempt turns out. Prosciutto & provolone bread sounds like it would make excellent toast.

                        1. re: kathleen221

                          Wonder how Gruyere or Jarlsburg would work in that.

                        2. re: biondanonima

                          I like this idea, kind of like a ham and cheese croissant but without the fussy dough

                        3. In RLB's Heavenly Cakes, she has a recipe for a white chocolate passion fruit cake, that is inspired by a cake from Masse's Pastries in Berkeley, CA. I am a big fan of RLB, but the photo of that cake looks horrible, at least compared to the real deal at Masse's, where I'm a regular. But, if you have that cookbook, the recipes will probably work to make something good.

                          At Masse's this cake is just beautiful and tastes phenomal. It is a sponge cake, with vanilla white chocolate mousse, passionfruit mousse and passionfruit curd. It is wrapped in a thin band of white chocolate.

                          I hope you are able to create something wonderful with those delicious flavors for a great birthday cake.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: milklady

                            That sounds lovely, I will definitely take a look at it. Thank you!
                            Oh goodness, that place is in my old neighborhood in Berkeley...is it in the old Cocolat space?

                            1. re: buttertart

                              I'm not sure if it's exactly the same storefront, but certainly within a door or two. (There have been a number of things in that block in the time since Cocolat closed.)

                              1. re: buttertart

                                Oh, I'm not sure if it's the same space as Cocolat (I moved to Berkeley after it was closed, sadly, but have had the pleasure of meeting Alice Medrich and trying some of her fabulous treats), but it is definitely in the same neighborhood. A block north of Chez Panisse and the Cheeseboard...

                                If you are ever in Berkeley again you should definitely come check out Masse's. I will happily meet you there if you would like company =)

                                1. re: milklady

                                  Sounds fun to me, we are definitely overdue for a Berkeley visit.

                                  1. re: milklady

                                    have you tried any of the cheeseboard's cookbook recipes? the only one i have made is the stollen, and it was amaaaaaazing.

                                    1. re: tastycakes

                                      A couple. I like the corn cherry scones a lot. I don't usually bake Cheeseboard recipes, as it is sooo very easy for me to stop at the Cheeseboard or Arizmendi and purchase there. I love that they share their recipes!

                              2. I jumping this response from the last thread. Last month, Buttertart posted this link to Paule Caillat's Brown Butter Tart Crust. http://www.food52.com/blog/2237_paule...
                                I've made it a bunch of times now, and my thoughts are:
                                • It's screamingly easy & very good.
                                • It's fine in a 9" tart shell, although 8 1/2" would yield a little more crust / slice. I'm sure you could do mini-tarts too, although I haven't.
                                • I've never really gotten the butter to brown the way I do on the stove, although it does boil.
                                • I've made it with both high-fat & regular american butter & both have worked fine.
                                • Like other pre-baked pate sucree crusts, one can make it in half an hour in the morning & fill it right before serving - nice trick for entertaining / cooking in the cool of the day.
                                • Fill with anything you love. Sweetened mascarpone & fresh berries is my personal favorite to date.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: THewat

                                  I should think you could brown the butter on the stove and chuck the other ingredients into the saucepan after? I haven't tried this but I think that's how I'd do it. Don't have a Pyrex bowl and have no intentions of buying a new one, given the explosion reports lately...
                                  Think perhaps doing it the butter in the oven is a fuel economy measure?

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    What explosion reports? I bake my almond bars in a square Pyrex baking dish. BT you should definitely try them with marzipan in the mix. I like the denser-than-cake texture of the last batch I made.

                                    BTW what size pan do you use to make the Hermé chestnut pie? I was thinking 8-inch or 9.5-inch. Another question on the recipe: it calls for chestnut puree and creme de marrons. I can get both easily, but how do I make the creme from the puree so that I don't have a large amount of leftovers from both cans ?

                                    1. re: souschef

                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751340 on the exploding Pyrex - I have never had any issues, but my mom had one explode on her in the oven years ago (she died in 1994).

                                      I used a 10" tart pan. I have it, a maybe 8" one, and 2 rectangular ones, one long and narrow and one 9"x11" -ish, as well as 2 deeper ones that I got at a Portuguese supermarket that I love, one somewhat larger than the other (should take cm measurements of all of these, I'm sure they're not "ish").

                                      If you have a Portuguese market or hardware/housewares store near you, recommend you take a look at their stock - lots of nice things come from there.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Thanks for the link. I have just that one Pyrex dish, which will be discarded.

                                        No Portuguese markets or hardware stores around, unfortunately.

                                        1. re: souschef

                                          Discarded? A bit extreme, IMO. I've read all the complaints about exploding Pyrex, and for the most part it seems to be situations of thermal shock or either very old (as in many decades old) and worn Pyrex. It's not that I don't believe it never happens otherwise, but I don't think it's inherently unsafe, and certainly I've used it, whether my mother's or my own, since I began to cook decades ago without issue. I'll continue to use my Pyrex bakeware without too much concern. I might also think twice about putting a BOWL in a hot oven for 15 minutes (the issue that first arose), but hell if I'm going to ditch my glass pie plates.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            I have a couple of square metal pans that are slightly larger, so it's just as easy to use them. I used the glass pan after years, so it's not something that I use on a daily basis that I would be discarding. Also, with those larger pans I'll tend to increase the amount of the ingredients, so more stuff for me to eat!

                                            Buttertart has put the Fear of Pyrex into me !

                                            1. re: souschef

                                              Can't have the premier St-Honoré maker of eastern Ontario harned!

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                Thanks for the compliment, but it really belongs to the guy (now deceased) who introduced me to Brioche aux Fruits. At the interface between the choux and the puff he used to have what seemed like liquid caramel, and it was really tasty. I always wondered if he ran some caramel around the base after the pastry was baked. I should try that the next time.

                                                Darn! This talk of choux makes me want to make salambos.

                                                1. re: souschef

                                                  That does sound good...would make a nice birthday cake too...and I should try the salambos.
                                                  For "harned" read "harmed" above.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Yup, a superb baker/milliner/dressmaker with whom I worked made it for me for a surprise 30th birthday party. It was great! At the time I did not do any baking, and she used to keep telling me I should start; glad I did.

                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                      What a nice combination of interests!

                                    2. re: buttertart

                                      Part of what I love about it is the "measure into bowl, stuff in oven, check in 15 minutes" experience. But yes, of course you could do it on the stovetop. I've used both pyrex and high-fired pottery for this; so long as it's oven-safe, anything goes.

                                  2. today - chocolate orange scones with orange glaze

                                    tomorrow - smitten kitchen's peach shortbread and a half-batch using plum instead of peaches

                                    later in the week, time and heat wave allowing: using up *amazing* fresh ricotta from the smitten kitchen recipe in a fig-ricotta gelato and ricotta pound cake, both from the dolce italiano cookbook, and some heirloom tomato margherita pizzas using sourdough pizza dough i made and froze last week.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: tastycakes

                                      Good luck with all, and I look forward to hearing about the peach shortbread. I have my eye on that too, now that I've made the smitten kitchen/ AllRecipes lemony blueberry crumble bars several times

                                      1. re: twilight goddess

                                        i'm happy to report that the peach shortbread is delicious made with red plums. the fig gelato is fantastic as well but i used homemade fig jam with cinnamon and orange rather than cooking down fresh figs with liqueur as in the recipe.

                                      2. re: tastycakes

                                        I made it with nectarines a couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic. The brown butter is really good with the stone fruit.

                                        1. re: sarahjay

                                          i made it in the food processor this time since i had to leave the butter in the freezer for quite a while before i could put the dough together and it came together in seconds. sooooo good and i let the butter get really dark this time. yum.

                                      3. So today I made another stunning berry-showcasing dessert: blueberry lemon cream bars, from Fine Cooking May 2008 (article on best-every blueberry desserts).

                                        OMG. These are just extraordinary... because of the creaminess, each bite hints of cheesecake almost, yet these are really satisfying in that special way of a cookie bar. Sophisticated and just gorgeous.

                                        A bit more time-consuming than the lemony blueberry crumble bar on smitten kitchen, which are also winners. Cooked and composed in three parts. First, there's a layer of brown sugar-rolled oat crust, which is cooked for 12 mins, then the blueberries and the lemon cream filling (lemon juice and zest, an egg yolk, and a can of sweetened condensed milk) -- and that is cooked for another 8 minutes. Then crumble the remaining oat mixture on top and cook another 25 minutes.

                                        Some1 who sampled said, "Isn't it ILLEGAL for something to taste this good?" I think he said something about swooning, too.


                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: twilight goddess

                                          Oh goodness, this is going on the list for Iowa family treats...

                                          1. re: twilight goddess

                                            so, if you had to choose, which one was the favorite? thanks!

                                          2. I've just bought some coconut flour and don't really know what to do with it! I'm attempting coconut pancakes for breakfast on the weekend, but would love other suggestions if anyone has any! I'm looking forward to baking with it!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: KitchenBug

                                              These blondies only call for, I think, 1/2 C. coconut flour. I've made them a couple of times, both times w/no dried fruit or chocolate, and they were wonderful!

                                              1. I made some arroz con leche for dessert tonight. Not baked, exactly, since most of the cooking was done on the stove, but I did stick it under the broiler for a few minutes to get a nice, caramelized top.

                                                I didn't have any lime zest, so I tossed in a kaffir lime leaf instead, which worked out beautifully. A very smooth, floral lime taste that blended well with the cinnamon. Now I'm thinking of all kinds of sweet things I could cook kaffir lime leaves into. I'm pretty sure it would be amazing in ginger ice cream (which is already pretty amazing on its own). Although ice cream is even less baked than arroz con leche, so I guess I should stop now.

                                                1. I made my friend Patty's Summertime Peach Upside-Down Almond Cake:


                                                  Because my mom had made buttertart's/Maida Heatter's peach/raspberry cake the day before, I followed a couple of my mom's changes:

                                                  - extra tablespoon of butter in the topping--WHY NOT?!

                                                  - just 1/2 cup of white sugar in the cake itself (rather than white + brown sugar)...perfect!

                                                  - 1 teaspoon almond extract rather than vanilla extract AND almond

                                                  - almond flour sub for grinding my own almonds--'cause it's in the fridge, anyway, whattheheck?

                                                  - I always use Italian baking powder with vanilla in it, so I've got vanilla goin' on regardless

                                                  - baked in a CI skillet as my mom did--might have been smart to measure it first--DUH, 12"!

                                                  The good news is it still came out great, even though I used the wrong size pan. Very moist and so pretty with that kinda starburst effect of peaches on top. Total keeper recipe! And way tasty for breakfast!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                      That sounds excellent.

                                                      I had a question about a recipe you posted on the last thread, kattyeyes -- I want to try your Mounds Brownies BUT , but I have the Trader Joe's unsweetened cocoa powder and I would need to use that rather than the Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate and cocoa. Wondering how to adjust the sugar there as I don't know the sweetness of the Ghirardelli product. Ideas? (I asked the question on the old thread, but I think it got lost in the shuffle).

                                                      1. re: twilight goddess

                                                        Sorry about that, I did miss your question, twilight goddess. Good morning! Some thoughts:

                                                        Looking at other cocoa-based brownie recipes as a guide, I see this one from Alice Medrich calls for 1 1/4 cups of sugar to 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa. So it seems that amount would work nicely. I've actually made these and they're fantastic!

                                                        Alternatively, use your favorite brownie recipe (the G one just happens to be mine) and take it from there. As it stands, I've been reducing the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup when I play with these because of the SCM and the coconut.

                                                        Let me know how it works out for ya!

                                                    2. Aren't figs coming around shortly?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                        I don't know where you live, but I'm in NY and my figs are about 3-4 weeks away.

                                                      2. Bacon Onion Buns


                                                        (makes 2 dozen small buns


                                                        For the dough

                                                        4 cups all purpose flour

                                                        1 1/3 cups warm water

                                                        1 tablespoon sugar

                                                        1 teaspoon salt

                                                        1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

                                                        Mix the sugar and yeast into the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.

                                                        In a large bowl or bread machine insert, add the water mixture, flour and salt.

                                                        Create the dough and let rise for about 2 hours, or use the dough cycle on the bread machine. Set aside.

                                                        For the filling

                                                        1 pound bacon, preferably slab bacon, smoked and uncured

                                                        5 medium yellow onions, diced

                                                        salt and pepper to taste

                                                        Cook the bacon according to package instructions and reserve the bacon drippings.

                                                        In a dutch oven or large pan, warm a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings and cook the diced onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. You may need to cook the onions in batches depending on the size of your dutch oven or pan.

                                                        Chop the cooked bacon so they are finely diced.

                                                        In a large bowl, mix together the bacon and onions with some salt and pepper to taste.

                                                        To assemble the buns

                                                        Knead the dough for about 10 minutes and divide into 24 pieces.

                                                        Also divide the filling into 24 servings. This will be about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons per bun.

                                                        Flatten or roll each dough piece into a round about 4″ – 5″ in diameter.

                                                        Scoop some filling and place it in the center of the round.

                                                        Join the edged together in the middle to form a bun shape.

                                                        Place joined edge side down on a floured baking sheet.

                                                        Repeat until the dough and filling are used up.

                                                        Cover buns with saran wrap and let rise for about 1 hour.

                                                        To bake the buns

                                                        1 egg, lightly beaten

                                                        sesame seeds

                                                        Preheat oven to 375F.

                                                        Brush the tops of each bun with some egg wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds.

                                                        Bake on middle rack for about 15 – 18 minutes.

                                                        1. Started baking the other day for the state fair. So far I've done hamburger rolls and cinnamon swirl bread, plus tested a couple of cinnamon roll recipes. Right now I've got challah, rye, and italian breads started.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: kathleen221

                                                            How fun! Fingers crossed for blue ribbons. Speaking of which, the old Farm Journal blue ribbon recipes cookbook is a gem.

                                                            1. re: kathleen221

                                                              I keep thinking about baking breads for our State Fair, but they say original recipe.. Is there such a thing?

                                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                Many of the competitions at our State Fair don't require an original recipe. The phrase flummoxed me, too: Is any recipe really original? But I figure if I make enough changes to something, it becomes my own.

                                                            2. I baked banana nut bread a few days ago. I had one loaf left yesterday and was going to have to use it or toss it. I made a banana bread bread pudding that came out really nice! It was a first for me, so I was pleased. I think next time I might try using coconut cream in place of some of the heavy cream, and slice some fresh bananas in there, too.

                                                              1. I may try the strawberry summer cake on smitten kitchen tomorrow. Or, perhaps something with CHERRIES, now that they are finally on sale! Other than pie... who can recommend a stellar cherry recipe that would work to bring to an informal meeting?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: twilight goddess

                                                                  NYchowcook has sung the praises of this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7952...

                                                                  She made it with sour cherries, but it was written for sweet. This cookbook is a winner.

                                                                  1. re: twilight goddess

                                                                    Cherry almond scones with almond glaze?
                                                                    Cherry almond cake (baked in a pie dish)?
                                                                    I made both last year and they fit your description nicely. :)

                                                                    1. re: twilight goddess

                                                                      Clafoutis. I've made it a few times, but don't have a recipe handy.

                                                                    2. Hungarian shortbread with raspberry preserves.

                                                                      And today I'm filling and decorating two big birthday cakes (with lemon curd and the cooked flour frosting.)

                                                                      1. Zucchini Loaves with Crunchy Lemon Glaze (Gina DePalma, recipe here: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/08/... ) I took them out at 50 minutes, but in my oven they could have used another 5. The cups to grams measurements were also a little screwy so I'm not sure I made the best rendition of this. In any event, I wasn't particularly impressed by what I got. Maybe zucchini bread just doesn't excite me.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: THewat

                                                                          Take two on zucchini loaves today - I riffed on something I found on another thread on this board. I think I'm going to stick with zucchini as a yummy vegetable, rather than an ingredient in sweet baked goods, from now on.

                                                                          1. re: THewat

                                                                            That is exactly my take on carrots; they don't belong in cakes.

                                                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                Carrots in halwa? No thanks; I like almonds in my halwa, and it has to be made on the East African coast.

                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                  This is Indian and in no way related to the sesame or almond dessert/bars of the middle east. Taste like sorta like sweet potato pie.

                                                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                    Burgeoningfoodie, do you have a gajar halwa recipe you like? I've had a couple of nice halwas at restaurants, and I have a sooji Ka Halwa recipe I've been meaning to try, but I'm kind of groping around without a lot of direction.

                                                                                    Souschef, I'm delighted for the validation. I'll think of you fondly next time I opt out of making a vegetable based cake.

                                                                        2. happy birthday to all those August babies! my BIP (boy-in-progress) has a birthday this month, and i'm trying to figure out what he'd like as a treat, and what will blow his socks off. i'm cooking him dinner tuesday, but this will be addressed on another thread :)

                                                                          been baking a lot playing with my new quarry tiles...
                                                                          meant to post this on that other thread about new brownie ideas (the one combining choc chip cookie dough and brownies)... but did a twist on paula deen's gooey butter cake and used a recipe for a thin layer of brownies for the bottom and the gooey cream cheesey based stuff on the top. first time, i baked in a pie tin (pictured), second time in an 8x8 silicone mold.

                                                                          chess pie
                                                                          been playing around with a new key lime white chocolate chip cookie variation... they're in the oven now...
                                                                          lots of breads and pizzas
                                                                          black and white cookies
                                                                          white chocolate buttermilk cake with cooked flour frosting
                                                                          ricotta souffles

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Emme

                                                                            I like that brownie gooey idea a lot.
                                                                            White chocolate buttermilk? Your recipe, or?

                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                              Gooey Brownie is like gilding the lily...

                                                                              The White Choc Buttermilk was my own thing... was trying to use up some buttermilk... will find the chicken scratch recipe in my stack and post soon :)

                                                                          2. Pound Cakes and more pound cakes. I just bought another decorative pan for them. I have always done a dark chocolate pound cake in a Bundt pan that could serve about 16 (my go to for bereavement donations) it stays moist for a long time. I have been making citrus pound cakes. Tomorrow while making strawberry preserves (maybe with rum and lime) I think I'll make a vanilla bean pound cake. Dorie Greenspan's pound cake recipe in Baking from My Home to Yours has an excellent pound cake with a tight crumb which makes any leftovers great for toasting. This pound cake is fool proof and can accommodate a variety of of variations. Get it down pat and you will always have a fool proof cake for bake sales, dessert, tea etc.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. I just put a tray of mini tart shells into the oven (I used David Lebovitz's recipe for French Tart Dough, because I wasn't in the mood to deal with all the chilling and cutting and chilling and shaping and chilling (etc.) of my usual pastry dough).

                                                                              When they are out and cooled, I shall fill them with lime curd and top them with vanilla pastry cream.

                                                                              1. I made challah buns (for hamburgers) and a cherry clafouti. The clafouti recipe was interesting: you cook the cherries into a syrup with some butter and sugar, and the eggs are separated, with whisked egg whites folded in. The result was light and puffy and was served alongside the cherry sauce and double cream.

                                                                                1. Your faithful correspondent was not in the mood for once this weekend - made pizza Saturday night and intended to use some for a starter yesterday, but life intervened. Maybe tonight.
                                                                                  Lots of baking will be done next weekend, visiting family (and really looking forward to it).

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                    And we'll be looking forward to your baking posts from the family visit!

                                                                                    I have not been baking at all for quite some time, due to the relentless heat in the Northeast and lack of a/c in my apartment. However, I made a Japanese cheesecake for the 4th, recipe courtesy of buttertart, and a blueberry buckle cake yesterday, recipe courtesy of Caitlin McGrath via buttertart. Both were excellent; the cheesecake has a lighter, almost spongecake texture, and I served it with simple honeyed sliced strawberries. The blueberry buckle cake was quick to make and bake, was drizzled with a lemon syrup after baking for extra zing, and was consumed entirely by nightfall.

                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                      That Japanese cheesecake is one of my favorite recipes ever. The texture is just great. It will doubtless feature in this weekend's baking, the family loves it.
                                                                                      Some of the blueberry cake I took to my office last Wednesday was left uncovered over the weekend - the inside is still moist. A remarkable cake.

                                                                                    1. Pie crust, in preparation for making World's Easiest Pie: Ruth Reichl (http://www.ruthreichl.com/2011/06/wor...) - anyone else made it?

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: THewat

                                                                                        It sounds good but I think that's too much flour with the fruit.
                                                                                        How is it easier than any other pie? You have to prepare the fruit no matter what kind it is (except raspberries, which make one of the world's best pies).
                                                                                        (WHY does everything have to be best, easiest, most wonderful with Reichl? Hyperbole palls after a while.)

                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                          I agree about the hyperbole. But the pie was good. Totally dependent on the fruit, of course. I liked that I didn't have to peel the apricots. I made it in two small dishes since I was a little short on fruit. I made the full amount of topping but didn't use it all, perhaps slightly improving the flour / fruit ratio. I did like the nutmeg with the apricots.

                                                                                      2. This is info that will be of interest to Caitlin.

                                                                                        I made the chocolate amaretti torte again, exactly per the recipe, in an 8-inch mold, and noted that the sides were not as neat as when I made it in the 11-inch mold; they were very crumbly.

                                                                                        If you recall, when I made it in the larger format, I did not exactly follow the recipe. I did not remove the ground amaretti and almonds from the food processor before processing the eggs, butter, and sugar (and salt, Buttertart); I just threw them all in. The batter had to be spread with a spatula whereas in the smaller format it was pourable.

                                                                                        The next time I make it, I will make a small one but use the same procedure as for the large, just to see if it makes a difference with the sides.

                                                                                        BTW they were all delicious.

                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                          Quick, fetsh the smelling salts, souschef didn't follow a recipe exactly! Next he'll be saying he measured in...cups!
                                                                                          I bet I did what you did the first time, knowing my slovenly habits. Don't remember much of a crumbling issue.

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            Follow a recipe exactly? In my infinite wisdom I consider it my artistic licence to make changes as I deem necessary, even the first time. Guess you have to be slovenly to not have a crumbling issue ! :)

                                                                                            Speaking of cups, in one of the comments about the chestnut pie link you posted, a guy asks for measure in cups instead of grams. The OP says he can't do that unless both of them use identical ingredients, and tells him to buy a gram scale. :)

                                                                                            Would you mind posting again the link to the Japanese cheesecake you like so much. I would like to make it once and for all, and if I like it, make it again, but if I don't, dismiss cheeseycakes forever.

                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                              Better a recipe than a link...I really want you to make this, my man:

                                                                                              8 oz cream cheese

                                                                                              3 egg yolks

                                                                                              1/4 c cornstarch

                                                                                              grated rind of 1 lemon + 2 tb juice

                                                                                              1/4 c milk or cream

                                                                                              1 tsp vanilla

                                                                                              Combine in food processor until smooth

                                                                                              3 egg whites

                                                                                              1/2 tsp cream of tartar

                                                                                              Beat to soft peaks and beat in 1/2 c sugar, beat to firm peaks

                                                                                              Fold cream cheese mixture into egg whites

                                                                                              Bake in deep 8" pan in water bath 40-45 mins at 350 deg F

                                                                                              It will inflate and fall, but the texture is wonderful, more like a spongecake than a cheesecake.

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                Thank you, my fine feathered friend.

                                                                                                In keeping with my practice of messing with recipes, I plan to beat about 1/2 cup egg white into the cream cheese mixture, to lighten it, before doing the folding - too used to doing this with soufflés.

                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                  Of the beaten egg white? By all means, I do that, and was just about to post that you should think of this as a soufflé.

                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    Yes, of the beaten egg white.

                                                                                                    BTW I do like cheese soufflé. Made it for lunch 2 days ago; had to feed the wife :)

                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                      O la la la pauvre...me too, got a good recipe?

                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart


                                                                                                        Cheese Soufflé ♪

                                                                                                        (From "The Creative Cook" Edited by Eileen Turner)

                                                                                                        Serves 2 (the recipe says serves 4, but I disagree)

                                                                                                        2 tablespoons butter

                                                                                                        1/4 cup AP flour

                                                                                                        1/2 cup milk

                                                                                                        1/2 tsp salt

                                                                                                        Pinch of that horrible stuff called cayenne (I don't use it)

                                                                                                        1/4 tsp mustard powder (never have it, so I just use 1 tsp mustard)

                                                                                                        4 eggs, separated

                                                                                                        3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

                                                                                                        Preheat oven to 375. Melt butter in small saucepan, stir in flour; cook for 1-2 min. Add milk gradually, stirring continuously. Cook till thick, then add seasonings. Remove from heat, add yolks and blend, then add cheese. Beat whites till stiff. Beat 1/2 cup whites into cheese mixture to lighten, then fold cheese mixture into whites. Pour into greased soufflé dish and bake 30 minutes. Serve immediately (your guests must wait for the soufflé; the soufflé must not wait for your guests). ♪

                                                                                                        Variations: I add green onions, chives, ham. The cheese is whatever I happen to have - Gruyere, Parmesan, etc.

                                                                                                        It takes exactly 1 hour start to finish.

                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                          Nice, I will make this! It would make a nice starter for 4 too.

                                                                                          2. re: souschef

                                                                                            Interesting! I look forward to your report on comparative methods. Easier = better, when it comes to assembly, and if the results are better, great!

                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                              Caitlin, I made the cake again today, using the method I used for the larger cake, and the sides are definitely less crumbly that when you follow the recipe exactly. So, don't take out the amaretti and almonds from the food processor; just bung in the rest of the stuff and give it a whirl.

                                                                                              Surprisingly, unlike with the larger quantity, the batter was still pourable, but still a bit stiffer than when you use the original recipe. I'm not going to try and figure out why; life's too short for that. We'll leave it to RLB or Buttertart to figure it out ♪♪♪

                                                                                              Note: I was careful to use the same chocolate in all cases, just in case the chocolate would make a difference.

                                                                                          3. I am planning to learn to make potato lefse. I finally realized that as my mother ages and doesn't want to cook or bake anymore, someone has to take over this important part of our family's heritage. It doesn't help that I don't like potato lefse, though pretty much all of my family loves it.

                                                                                            My parents' 50th anniversary is in September and we are having a large party for them. I am planning lots of traditional Norwegian foods, though will likely have much of it catered unless I can make it ahead. Traditional potato lefse is something that I just cannot buy...oh the shame that would cause. All of my cousins long ago learned how to make lefse so I am going to conquer it. From what I understand, it is much more about the technique of handling, rolling out, and cooking the dough than getting the actual recipe correct.

                                                                                            I'd much rather be learning how to make perfect bread, cinnamon rolls, or something I find irresistable. This will be a labor of love!

                                                                                            I just made some red currant and blueberry muffins over the weekend. I didn't have enough of either berry from my garden to make a full recipe so I tried them together to see what happened. I didn't so much care for those pesky little currant seeds, but the flavors were good together and the muffins disappeared very quickly.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                              I think that's a wonderful gift you're planning - and I'm sure it'll be highly appreciated (probably much more appreciated than the appreciation expressed, if I know my Norwegians).
                                                                                              You better get going on it, September is nipping at our hind legs.
                                                                                              Looking forward to hearing about the party - do you have your menu set? Is kransekage part of your traditions? I grew up with a wonderful Danish bakery around the corner and we had it at occasions - even had one at our wedding, with Canadian flags on it.

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                I know, September is right around the corner...yikes! The party is 9/24, so about 6+ weeks away. I think I will work on it this weekend. My dad in particular will be most appreciative--he is from Norway 60+ years ago and potato lefse is his favorite thing to eat. Other family members will be happy as well, though I'm sure my technique will be critiqued carefully by the older generation!

                                                                                                The party is at an odd time for a meal--1:00 to 3:00 p.m.reception type of thing at our church. My dad is 90 and his health is very frail at times, plus he has advanced dementia symptoms so we are planning for his best time of day and keeping it short. Instead of a full meal, I am going with the smorgasbord approach and this is what I am planning so far: bread, hard crackers, cheese, pickled vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, lingonberries, herring, etc. for a make-it-yourself smorrbrod array. I was going to do catered openfaced sandwiches but decided letting people make their own to suit their tastes will be more practical.

                                                                                                Also cucumber salad, Swedish meatballs, some type of potato, gravlax (smoked salmon), and then lefse and assorted pastries for dessert. And yes, a kransekakke! We found a bakery about an hour away that makes beautiful kransekakke (must be the Norwegian spelling, lol) so that will be a focal point, with Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and American flags.

                                                                                                1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                  That sounds absolutely perfect. I understand about the necessary timing - my dear father-in-law had those troubles for a few years before he passed. I'm sure it will be a lovely party.
                                                                                                  Kransekakke! Oh boy!

                                                                                              2. re: jlhinwa

                                                                                                I'm cheering you on on the lefse front. I make a variety of things that I (or loved ones) feared we were fast loosing - including a poppyseed strudel made several generations ago in Rumania by Ashkenazic Jews. In this case, it's not my baking tradition, and I'm not a huge fan of the strudel, but presenting the first successful effort was a delight.

                                                                                                1. re: THewat

                                                                                                  Thanks for the cheering on! I always thought I was a bit immune to the sentimentality of my culinary upbringing since I didn't really relate so much to it, but apparently I was wrong. As I see my parents and aunts/uncles age and realize that someone has to carry on traditions, it is something I am really looking forward to. And maybe I'll even like it!

                                                                                                  That strudel sounds yummy. :-)

                                                                                              3. cornmeal muffins with cheddar cheese, jalapenos and bacon. Great for breakfast!

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: nvcook

                                                                                                  I should say! Send me one, please! ;-)

                                                                                                2. Concentrating mostly on ice cream, but did this variation on oatmeal cookies the other day; you probably all have a dozen variations (I know I do), but this one was unusually popular:

                                                                                                  1/2c butter 1/2tsp. baking soda
                                                                                                  1/2c dark brown sugar 1/4tsp. cinnamon
                                                                                                  1 egg 1/4tsp.nutmeg
                                                                                                  1/2 tsp. vanilla 1 1/2c. quick oats
                                                                                                  1/4 tsp. lemon oil 1c. (6 0z.)raisins
                                                                                                  3/4c. flour zest from lemon(s)used for juice
                                                                                                  1/3c. lemon juice

                                                                                                  Simmer raisins with lemon juice until absorbed, let cool. Otherwise, standard cookie procedures(see oatmeal box if in doubt). I form the cookies (with damp hands) and flatten them, but should work as drop cookies, maybe with 1Tb. less flour. Bake 1/3 from top of oven, 360 degrees for 15 min.

                                                                                                  1. Not turning the oven on until we have much cooler weather. Baking doesn't appeal to me when it is 107 degrees,actual temp,not heat index. Y'all are a lot tougher than I am to bake now.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: MellieMag

                                                                                                      Oh wow, don't blame you one bit, MellieMag! But I am a bit envious. We have had nothing remotely resembling unbearable heat where I live this summer. :-( (Pacific NW.)

                                                                                                    2. I've just made three large batches of quick puff pastry for savory palmiers for a wedding I'm doing next week. My friend's mom backed out of paying for anything, so it's a last-minute DIY wedding, so I'm doing the food and another friend is collecting tablecloths etc and putting together flower arrangements. Next on the list for this week is sugar cookies with MMF (will put together next week) and oatmeal raisin and chocolate crinkle cookies to stash in the big freezer. Hope to get all the doughs made and in the fridge tonight so I can bake after work the next couple of days.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: sarahjay

                                                                                                        What a good friend! I love DIY weddings. What flavors do you like in your savory palmiers? I'm always looking for good ideas to stash in the back of my mind.

                                                                                                      2. Has anyone made the lemon curd from David Lebovitz's Ready For Dessert? I'm looking for a good lemon curd recipe to fold into my ice cream for a bright lemon flavored ice cream.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                          I have not. I did just make this one: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20... to rave reviews. I found it a little overwhelming, but it is both rich & bright.

                                                                                                          1. re: THewat

                                                                                                            I love love LOVE this recipe for lemon curd (or cream) but I wonder if it would work well folded into ice cream. There is a LOT of butter, and I would be concerned that it might get unpleasantly frozen-buttery at ice cream temp.

                                                                                                        2. My SO couldn't understand why I would want to make my own birthday cake so unfortunately tonight I will be getting a store-bought cake lol... but I am still going to make Ina Garten's peach cake this week :) I've been wanting to make it for ages and never got around to it.

                                                                                                          A couple of weeks ago I made Tish Boyle's Chocolate Valentine Cake for my SO's birthday. It was divine. Lovely flourless chocolate cake - instead of the raspberry layer and chocolate glaze, I made a homemade whipped cream and topped the cake with that and shavings of bittersweet chocolate.

                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: uncommon

                                                                                                            Despite my wife's protests, I always make my own birthday cake, just because I know I'll get what I like if I do that.

                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                              I make mine every year.. Nigella's nutella cake. Ina Garten's peach cake sounds good.. I'll have to hunt that one down..

                                                                                                                1. re: uncommon

                                                                                                                  Thanks Uncommon!
                                                                                                                  It's in "How to be a Domestic Goddess".. pretty easy, and universally loved...

                                                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                What ones have you made for your bdays? And uncommon, happy birthday, fellow Leo!

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  Thanks :) Now I want to bake lol. Alas, I am stuck at work on this, the dawn of my thirtieth year :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: uncommon

                                                                                                                    You are a mere babe. Have a great celebration.

                                                                                                                  2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    I always make my favourite cake - the chocolate fig cake. Lacks imagination, I know, but it's what I like the best.

                                                                                                                    Yes, happy birthday young'un uncommon.

                                                                                                              2. Candy's Chocolate Pound Cake - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/280044 - see upthread. It's for a committee meeting tomorrow. I'm excited to try it - I would dearly love to make a great chocolate pound cake.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: THewat

                                                                                                                  That sounds great. I'm thinking of making one tonight too. I am debating between this one, the chocolate idiot cake or the stout bundt cake from smitten kitchen... decisions decisions..

                                                                                                                2. The rustic plum tart from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. So simple and so good when plums are in season.

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                      roxlet, I am especially fond of the almond variation of this plum tart also found in Pure Dessert (that's it in my CH avatar). I found a post where I paraphrased the recipe for that: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7114...

                                                                                                                      Checking the cookbook, the difference between that and the rustic plum tart is in the crust ingredients and the baking time. As noted in the other post, Medrich says to use plum that are sweet-tart (she suggests Santa Rosa, Laroda, Friar, and Elephant Heart, and also pluots), rather than sweet (she says Italian prune plums aren't tangy enough). I have used the satsuma plums from my mother's tree, which are purple through and have great sweet-tart flavor.

                                                                                                                      For the rustic plum tart, use these ingredients for the crust:

                                                                                                                      1 cup(4.5 oz) AP flour
                                                                                                                      3/4 cup sugar
                                                                                                                      1/2 tsp baking powder
                                                                                                                      1/8 tsp salt
                                                                                                                      1 large egg
                                                                                                                      3 T unsalted butter in chunks

                                                                                                                      Preheat oven to 375F with rack in lower third. Butter well a 9.5-inch tart pan w/removable bottom, or a 9- or 10-inch cake pan or glass pie pan (use a 350F oven if using a glass pie plate). Pulse dry ingredients in food processor, then add egg and butter and pulse until sandy and starting to clump around the blade. Press into the bottom only of the prepared pan.

                                                                                                                      Cut 4 large or 6 smaller juicy, flavorful plums in halves, quarters, or sixths, depending on size, and press lightly into dough, within a half inch of the border. Bake until pastry is deep golden and puffed at edges, and golden between plums, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool briefly, then remove the pan rim. Serve warm or room temp.

                                                                                                                      1. quick bake cookies for DH's family flying from Hawaii to Virginia with stop over in San Francisco: coconut macadamia white chocolate chip cookies
                                                                                                                        preheat oven 350°F - bake for 10 minutes, cool cookies on wire rack
                                                                                                                        Combine 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda; set aside. In mixer bowl, cream 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup packed brown sugar until smooth; add one egg and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, beat until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in dry ingredients; stir in 1-1/2 cups flaked coconut, 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts, 3/4 cup white chocolate chips. Drop teaspoons of dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet, 2" apart. Bake 10 minutes at 350°F. Cool on wire rack. Store airtight.

                                                                                                                        1. Baby shower time! Brush embroidery sugar cookies (love how these turned out!), Pink lemonade tea cakes (a citrus riff on Russian tea cakes), biscotti (the pillowy soft pink version from my friend's Italian grandmother's recipe box), cupcakes, more lemon tartlets, and raspberry mousse.

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                            GORGEOUS JOB! And I love the swing off of the branch, too. Can you tell us more about the pink lemonade tea cakes? The cupcakes are super impressive as well. What did you do there?

                                                                                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                              I just took a standard Russian tea cakes/Mexican wedding cakes recipe, but added a bit of Lorann's Oil flavoring in the lemonade flavor and a tablespoon of King Arthur lemon powder to the dough. Then, instead of tossing in plain powdered sugar, I colored the powdered sugar pink with petal dust, and added some lemon powder to that as well. It was really delicious! All the buttery, shortbready goodness of a Russian tea cake, with bright citrus flavors.

                                                                                                                              Those cupcakes look so impressive, but are so very simple! I just make gumpaste toadstools (paint the tops with vodka and dip in disco dust for instant fabulousness) and simple flowers. Arrange your cupcakes in the pattern you'll serve them, and pipe a brown buttercream meandering path. Dot with gumpaste pebbles. Pipe grass using green buttercream and a grass tip, and throw on random flowers and toadstools. No need to be precise. No need to be symmetrical. 'It's organic! It's a garden! It's natural!" It's a great excuse for wonky cupcakes. ;-) That cupcake is taller than all the rest? It's a hill, of course! I totally meant to do that. ;-)

                                                                                                                              1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                                Thank you for introducing me to two new ingredients--Lorann's Oil and lemon powder. And HA HA HA, those cupcakes are simple to YOU! Even if I had tips and fancy dust (I'm a lazy baker, so this will never happen), I bet money mine would never look quite as nice as yours. :)

                                                                                                                            2. I'm trying to recreate Kayak's Salty Oat Cookies w/ chocolate & pecans: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0.... They are wicked good. I started with a cooks illustrated recipe that also makes a thick oat cookie: http://sites.google.com/site/thecooks.... If anyone has any thoughts, I'd be delighted to hear them.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: THewat

                                                                                                                                Laughing, ok - they are too sweet (I did cut the sugar significantly, but clearly not enough) and they flattened. They are actually quite good, but have almost no relation to the kayak cookies. to get that chunky, oat-y cookie in the serious eats photo I'm guessing I should 1) cut the sugar further, 2) increase the oats / butter ratio, and 3) chill the dough before baking. Anyone wiser than me want to weigh in?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                                    Thanks Cynsa! At least I know I'm in excellent company. I'll try one of the recipes in the 2007 chow thread, and then maybe I'll bump it & see if anyone has come up with anything closer in the last four years. :-)

                                                                                                                              2. I recently (yesterday) became the proud owner of a set of pastry bags and tips from the 0.99 Store (right within my budget at the moment). I've been itching (since yesterday) to break them out of their cardboard-and-plastic packaging and give them a try.

                                                                                                                                I've been experimenting a lot recently with pastry cream, so I'm thinking I'll do a cream-filled cupcake. I've always wanted to try one, but never had a pastry bag... until now.

                                                                                                                                The cream is currently chilling in the fridge. Instead of regular milk, I used coconut milk, heated and steeped with fresh ginger and kaffir lime leaves. I'm thinking that this will be delicious inside of chocolate cupcakes (chocolate-ginger maybe? chocolate cinnamon?) but haven't decided yet. I may have to buy some whipped cream and raspberries to top them. We'll see.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: BananaBirkLarsen


                                                                                                                                  I went with my favourite chocolate cake recipe from epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/articlesgui... ) and added ginger and cinnamon to the batter (I steeped fresh ginger and a cinnamon stick in the coffee and also added the ground versions to the dry ingredients). I always forget how many cupcakes this thing makes (2 dozen) and only had enough pastry cream to fill and top the first dozen. Not sure what I'll do with the others... I might just pile on a glob of fresh whipped cream. That's usually my favourite way to eat this cake.

                                                                                                                                  As for the $0.99 pastry bag, it leaked through the seam when I was injecting pastry cream into the cupcakes, due to the pressure. It did work in the end, although my hands were very sticky. It worked perfectly for adding little swirls of cream to the tops of the cupcakes, and I imagine it will be fine for anything where the filling doesn't have to push cake out of its way. Overall, a fine investment.

                                                                                                                                2. Tomorrow night's projects will be 7-layer bars (graham cracker crust, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, nuts and condensed milk) and a sour cream coffee cake. I have some leftover german chocolate cake icing (coconut caramel) that I made with goat's milk in the freezer, so I'm thinking I may add that to half the pan of 7-layer bars, just to see if I like the extra tang with the rest of the ingredients. I also have a recipe that calls for cocoa powder to be added to the graham crackers for the crust, which might be good.

                                                                                                                                  1. I made these blondies last night that were the runner up in food 52's gluten-free baked goods contest. I get together with some girlfriends every sunday night and I've agreed to bring baked goods to feed them. Many of the girls are gluten-free, so I've been looking for recipes that satisfy gluten-eaters too. I usually make ono mochi butter cake because people request it every single week but I decided to switch it up this week. I'm happy to report that these were a huge hit! They really were some of the best blondies I've ever tasted. The modifications I made were as follows: I browned the butter as suggested in the recipe, I substituted a tsp of almond emulsion and a tsp of orange emulsion for the 2 Tblsps of vanilla, I sprinkled the top with a dusting of smoked salt before I popped them in the oven (I've found this works really well with other browned butter baked goods I've made) and I only cooked for 30 minutes. People raved and I'll definitely be making them again.

                                                                                                                                    1. I was at my mother-in-law's for a few days and got completely spoiled (by fresh-baked ginger cookies and absolutely stunning, tender cream puffs among other delights). I made 10 doz hard rolls for the freezer (based on Peter Reinhart's French bread dough recipe) and sort of Nick's brownies - used Hershey's special dark choc chips and cocoa, because my nephew is extremely allergic to peanuts and the packaging of these did not indicate packed in a peanut processing facility. Melt 8 oz (salted) butter, add 6 oz chips, melt; add 6 tb cocoa + 2 tb oil (was substituting for the 8 oz bittersweet choc called for); add 1 c white sugar + 1 c brown (only had light brown), 1 tsp vanilla, 4 eggs, 1 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, stir in the rest of the chips, bake at 350 deg F for 30 mins in foil and Pam-lined pan. We ate them warm from the pan and even though that goes against my grain, they were quite good. (Intended to try kattyeyes' fave, the Ghirardeli powdered choc ones, but the package had peanut references all over it.)

                                                                                                                                      1. Homemade mac and cheese (with piave vecchio, midnight moon, prima donna, parmesan, and asiago cheeses)

                                                                                                                                        I have a birthday cake to bake this weekend ... no clue what kind yet.

                                                                                                                                        1. My, you bakers never fail to impress. Your results make turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen seem well worth it; temperatures be damned.
                                                                                                                                          We just got back from vacation, and one of the highlights was scoring fresh sour cherries in Michigan. Although I was intent on making a cherry pie, I got outvoted in favor of turnovers. They were good, though.
                                                                                                                                          Today, despite ungodly temps, both outside and in the kitchen, I baked a batch of cranberry-hazelnut crackers (from a copycat recipe for Raincoast Crisps) so we could have them with chicken liver pate I pulled from the freezer and some nice runny cheese, which sufficed as dinner tonight. (They're perfectly nice on their own, however, and much less caloric.)

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                            Mmmmm, those Raincoast Crisps are so delish! I had saved the copycat recipe from another thread. I love appetizers for dinner, btw--and DESSERT. Gotta have both the alpha and the omega for a complete meal! :)

                                                                                                                                          2. Since it's the 16th, how about going to a Part 2 for the balance of the month?