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Nov 1, 2012 09:15 AM

What are you baking these days, November, Part One [OLD]

Buttertart, who is buried at work, asked me if I would start the November baking thread for her.

My own baking activities have been curtailed by Hurricane Sandy, who has left us without power. I am particularly upset since tomorrow is my husband's birthday, and I bake him a coconut cake every year. This year, we will be putting candles in something from the bakery, fear.

On the 11th, I will be having a party for my son's birthday, and I am in the baking planning stages right now. We will be having about 30 friends and relatives, so I will definitely be making more than one cake. Always on the menu for his birthday, however, is the Epicurious Double Chocolate Cake. I am in the research phase of one or two more cakes.

What are you baking these days?

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  1. I see cookies and another one of those Braker almond cakes in my near future, as thank yous to people at work who have been kind enough to offer lifts to and from...the worst part of the storm for us (and we were incredibly lucky) is its effect on the public transportation system.

    This weekend should be quite bake-y!

    4 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      There is no better gift than baked goods! Too bad about NJ transit...

      1. re: rstuart
        I can't really complain...yikes.

        Thinking that the Braker almond cake could be made marble, with a couple of oz of choc in part of it?

        1. re: buttertart

          WOW! Between the damage and the unexpected objects on the line (boats? Portapotties?).. I can see that it will take a while to get back to normal!

          1. re: rstuart

            Scary stuff but it seems that they have been able to clean a lot of it up. Herculean labours dep't.

    2. Oh, how disappointing.. but life gets in the way sometimes. What other cakes are you thinking of for your son's birthday?

      3 Replies
      1. re: rstuart

        I am thinking that one of them has to be the coconut cake, but it is the third that I think I will experiment with. I am powering up outside the house today, but when I get back home, I will peruse some of my recent baking acquisitions to see if I can turn up something new and exciting. All suggestions will be considered!

          1. re: buttertart

            Yes, thankfully. The power went on yesterday evening, but teased a bit by going on and off several times before deciding to stay on. Sadly, we have some friends here who are still lacking power.

      2. At the end of the month there's a cookie exchange. Going to make my green tea shortbread. But am also using that event as an excuse to get a ton of xmas baking out of the way early. So I will also be making candied pecans, peppermint bark, and maybe something else that isn't a cookie to give out :)

        For another dinner, I'm either making a pandan cake with gula melaka frosting or Sugar Shack APDC's maple mille feuille.

        Green tea shortbread (my recipe):
        Pandan cake (someone else's recipe):
        Maple mille feuille (photo):

        For Halloween, I made Witches' Hats from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery cookbook. Not hard, but laborious due to the components (speculoos, marshmallow, enrobing, decorating). They did turn out really well though! I'm just not sure I need to do that again, but of course, my sister and I were already talking about Christmas and how we could make them into trees... >_<

        15 Replies
        1. re: jlunar

          Wow, the maple mille feuille looks great!
          What's this Witches' Hat? You mentioned speculoos and marshmallow.. sounds wonderful!

          1. re: rstuart

            rstuart > Witches' Hats are like viva puffs, minus the filling. Done with nicer ingredients, of course :) I really went a little overboard doing this recipe. I didn't like the way the first batch looked so I did a second one (twice the pain!). They turned out much better (more hat, less poop-swirl) and I even ended up doing a video on the marshmallow piping (... since that's what I screwed up originally - go me!). Anyway, there's a photo of it attached to this post. Cute, non? I don't know if I'd do it again, but it was well-received so it was worth the effort (kinda sorta).

            The maple mille feuille has been the best dessert I'd eaten in 2012. Really incredibly good. Flaky pastry layers, delicious maple custard, fresh whipped cream... huuurrr... so good.

   - food. is. love.

            1. re: jlunar

              Wow.. good to hear about. Viva puffs are definitely one of my guilty pleasures!
              I'll have to get Bouchon out of the library..
              Oh, just found your picture on your blog. I don't know I'm ambitious enough to try something like that (although I would for sure eat it!)

              1. re: rstuart

                Just to clarify - it's Keller's newer Bouchon Bakery cookbook! He's been touring around doing promo for it, so if you're interested in seeing him, it may be worth looking up. He just came by Toronto this past Monday.

                  1. re: buttertart

                    It's a cookie with marshmallow and some sort of filling ( my favourite is caramel!), dipped in chocolate. Very trashy....

                    1. re: rstuart

                      You had to remind me...I've had more of those than you've had hot dinners ;-)
                      They sell a similar cookie here, Mallomars, but the Dare ones are better.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        I've always wondered what Mallomars were like.. now I know!

                        1. re: rstuart

                          The Mallomars don't have a filling, just cookie and marshmallows coated in (dark) chocolate.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Ah, so the Witches' Hats are more of a Mallomar than a Viva Puff!

                  2. re: rstuart

                    Errr... I'm having problems posting that photo. Sorry! They're really cute, I promise. Well, they're cute as long as you pipe the marshmallow right!! Otherwise... poop-swirls.

                    The kids I tested these on really enjoyed shouting that one loudly. In public spaces. Sigh.

                  3. re: jlunar

                    Pandan cake recipe please please please, I have a bottle of extract...

                    1. re: buttertart

                      I made my comment confusing - the recipe I followed is linked above! It was good. The frosting is what really makes it though. Love that gula melaka!!

                      I also like making kaya from pandan - a coconut custard spread that Malaysians eat on toast.

                  4. It's November -- time to think about Christmas and birthdays...

                    It's Mr. Vuitton's birthday this month and he's asked for cherry pie, so that is first up. I have been marinating cherries in plum brandy since the summer so I will use those for the pie. The original plan for those cherries was to be chocolate dipped (dark, semi sweet, milk and white) for the holidays, but I just am not going to have time with my current work schedule.

                    Mr. Vuitton's cousin also has a birthday this month, so she has asked for a spice cake,so some version of that will be made. Perhaps Gramercy Tavern's gingerbread cake recipe? I haven't quite decided yet.

                    Later this month I have a Christmas cookie exchange. Chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies. And i have been asked to make a baklava for the event as well.

                    It will be a fun month I really find baking relaxes my mood :)

                    6 Replies
                      1. re: CocoaChanel

                        We love that Gramercy Tavern's gingerbread. It got rave reviews at a "Friendsgiving" last year, even though everyone was stuffed.

                        Those cherries sound great, no matter where they end up. :-)

                        1. re: CocoaChanel

                          Any kind of cherry pie is great in my opinion, but using those marinated cherries sounds absolutely spectacular! Were they fresh cherries?

                          1. re: modthyrth

                            Yes, they were fresh. By the time I had finished pitting them, my kitchen counter looked like the scene of a murder ;)

                            1. re: CocoaChanel

                              Yes, I find that pitting cherries is best done in old clothes, even with an apron :)

                        2. Likewise, Sandy has curtailed all kitchen activity. What is your favorite coconut cake recipe? DH loves coconut and his bday is the 14th.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: angelsmom

                            I used to work at a bakery in Atlanta and we made the best coconut cake. It started with 2 10" yellow layers cut in half(well, you could use any size). Soak each layer with Coco Lopez. Ice each layer with Cream Cheese icing and sprinkle coconut on each frosted layer - I prefer toasted coconut. Cover the whole thing with Cream Cheese icing and toasted coconut. Yummers!

                            As part of my quest to continue to deplete pantry and freezer in preparation for moving, I made Rice Krispie treats, extra gooey and I have an Apple Brown Betty (so old fashioned) from Fannie Farmer Cookbook, baking in the oven right now. My house is so clean right now, to prepare for sale, that I almost hate to mess up the kitchen, almost......

                            1. re: angelsmom

                              I use Nick Malgieri's recipe, which is the best I have found. It uses both coconut milk and shredded coconut in the cake. For the frosting, I use flour frosting made with the remainder of the coconut milk and finished with large curls of coconut. I have been making coconut cakes for my husband (who is from Atlanta) for 30 years, and it is his contention that this combination of cake and frosting is the best ever. I think that the picture below is of a double recipe made in 3 nine-inch pans.

                              Coconut Cake Layers
                              Adapted from rom Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri

                              1 ¾ cups bleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
                              1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
                              ¼ teaspoon salt
                              12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
                              1 1/3 cup sugar
                              1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                              1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
                              2 eggs at room temperature
                              2 egg yolks
                              ½ cup Thai coconut milk
                              1 cup (about ½ a 7 ounce bag) sweetened shredded coconut, finely chopped

                              2 8” cake pans, buttered, floured, and with parchment on the bottom (the Wilton release works well here – that was all I used)

                              1. Set rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350.
                              2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl
                              3. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until soft and light. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest, then beat in the eggs an yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
                              4. Reduce the speed to low and add one third of the flour mixture, and then half of the coconut milk. Scrape down the bowl and repeat with another third of the flour, the rest of the coconut milk, and the final third of the flour. Scrape down the bowl and beater again.
                              5. Use a rubber spatula to give the batter a final mixing, and then mix in the chopped coconut. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.
                              6. Bake the layers for 30-35 minutes until they are well-risen and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold onto racks to finish cooling.

                              Flour Frosting

                              1/4 cup flour
                              1 cup sugar
                              1 cup milk (or coconut milk for coconut cake)
                              1 cup butter cut in cubes (My butter was cool and firm, but I could still leave an indent when I pressed my finger into it)
                              1 tsp vanilla
                              pinch of salt

                              1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar, flour, salt together. Add the milk and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally (I had to whisk constantly or else it started to stick and clump at the bottom) until the mixture has thickened into a paste and slightly bubbly at edges

                              2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. If the frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill slightly: then beat again until it is the proper consistency.

                              3. Add the vanilla and continue mixing until combined.

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  Wow.. definitely printing that one.. it looks truly wonderful!

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      Any favorite brand of coconut milk? They vary so much in fat content.

                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                        I haven't found that it makes much of a difference, to tell you the truth. My husband buys a case at the Restaurant Depot about once a year, and I just use whatever he buys.

                                        1. re: roxlet

                                          I love coconut, but not too many people in my family do! I miss a good coconut cake.

                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            What are the instructions for assembling please?

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              As you like, really. You can split the layers if you will. I have on occasion filled the split layers with either lime or lemon curd. The cake you see here is simply 3 layers, unsplit,
                                              filled with the coconut flour frosting, iced with the same, and then with shaved coconut pressed into the outside of the cake. Although a crumb layer is advisable, this cake with its extravagant coconut exterior hides a multitude of sins.

                                            2. re: roxlet

                                              So the items you are giving us above are for your change to 2-8 inch pans instead of the 2 9inch pans he uses?

                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                I think roxlet's traveling, but I'm pretty sure based on past comments that she keeps Malgieri's proportions, but bakes the cakes in 8-inch pans because she feels the cakes are too shallow as 9-inch layers.

                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  Oh okay good to know. The baking time I would imagine would have to be different, but thanks for letting me know. Betcha can't guess what I'm bringing to someone's Thanksgiving.

                                                  Thankful for this helpful community.