Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

Should I sing the "I love lemon tarts" song right now? Because I love, love, love lemon tarts. I've been a trifle obsessed with them since I was thirteen and I made my first lemon meringue pie for Thanskgiving with my Gran. I've got these babies down! I was making the angel food cake and you always have a surplus of egg yolks when you make an angel food cake. Well, when life gives you egg yolks, you make lemon curd! We gave both of them away to friends at church since we were already going to have enough goodies, but I could have seriously scarfed the entire tart. It doesn't help that it's my favorite color too!

Angel food cake is boring to look at, but oh so tasty with strawberries (with a smidge of balsamic vinegar - yum) and whipped cream. I'm still laughing at a lady from church who said to me when she found out I was baking an angel food cake - "You mean, from scratch?" Yes, from scratch. Is there any other way. I know their are mixes out there and I do want to try one for experimental purposes. And yes, my scratch recipe uses and entire dozen eggs for the whites. But really, to me, if you're baking for someone (or yourself), it's not a bad thing to be a little decadent. Course, I think all baking should be this way. But I confess to loving yellow cake mix with chocolate icing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

For Emily Kern

Emily, you said my cake needed fingerprints - well, here's what happens when I leave a cake unsupervised with a two-year-old. This is Aaron's birthday cake two years ago when Laurel was two. I doubt Will would have stopped with just licking the cake and putting the candles on upside down. There's just no telling what that little son of mine is capable of. So I was prepared to guard this year's cake well!

Happy Pi (3.14.....) Day

Our great friends at church introduced us to Pi Day - I'm incredibly embarrassed that I was not aware of this day - me the math/baker geek. It's the perfect holiday to celebrate. So we got together with Joe and Adrienne last night and had pie. I made a jam tart and it will officially be on my back-up list of quick, easy, tasty and most of all, looks like you slaved over it desserts. Do I have a picture - nope! We ate it! But it was so seriously easy. I'll post the recipe soon (I just might make another one just for a photo - my birthday party is tomorrow after all!).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Mom volunteered some tarts for the Kennewick High School bake sale and I got to bake them - really it was a treat for me. I never get to bake like this with three little ones at home. So I made two lemon tarts and then two of these strawberry rhubarb tarts. We kept one to eat.

The recipe came from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook - one of my new favorites.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Warning - More Rhubarb

I found more rhubarb - not difficult, since it is in season. I'm trying out a tart this Friday if I can find some decent strawberries. Will post pics if it is successful. I also get to bake some lemon tarts - my all time favorite thing to make and eat - on Saturday with my mom for a bake sale at KeHS. I'll get some pictures of those too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Birthday Baking

Okay, I need to work on the photography, clearly. But this is Aaron's birthday cake and the white cupcakes I made for the kids.

First, the cake. I used a devil's food cake recipe from the Tartine cookbook - they are a bakery in the San Francisco area and I've been wanting to try this cake recipe for a while. I'm still debating on whether I should post all these recipes or not. Then I got the coconut-pecan filling from here - the original German chocolate cake recipe I made for Aaron. I found that cake to be too dry, which is why I've been experimenting. I used the icing/ganache recipe as well. After consulting Mom and Aunt Bonny, I'm going to use the Betty Crocker recipe next year. Doesn't involve any silly water bath for the milk for hours on end. Anything that tastes just as good and is faster is always better in my book! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction Mom and Aunt Bonny!

The cupcakes were all Martha Stewart. Here is the recipe. I loved the frosting - and making a buttercream frosting using meringue is not all that tough. Although, if you are a Bosch user your life is more difficult. Yet another reason to have a Kitchenaid - you can put the bowl right over the water bath and move it to the mixer - no switching bowls or, heaven forbid, having to whip up a meringue with a handheld electric mixer. This frosting tasted just like strawberry ice cream. It ought to, considering how much butter was in there.

The cheesecake is not pictured because it was not as beautiful as it tasted. Not that it looked horrible, but I'll work on a more photogenic one. It was delicious - Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From My Home to Yours is phenomenal and I've loved all the recipes I've tried from it.

1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3 T. sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 c. butter, melted

Press into a 9" springform pan that you've double-wrapped in foil. I use the bottom of a glass to make the inner corners sharp. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

2# cream cheese, room temperature (very important)
1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
4 lg. eggs, room temperature (also very important - you don't want lumpy cheesecake)
1 1/3 c. sour cream

Bring a pot of water to boil while you're mixing the cheesecake. Beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat again. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well. You want it nice and fluffy. Add sour cream.
Pour into crust (it will probably come to the top, if not very near). Bake in hot water bath (this is where that pot of water comes in) 1 hour 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, shut off the oven and prop it open with a wooden spoon for 1 more hour.
Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature. Then chill it at least four hours, although overnight is best.

I used a simple rhubarb compote recipe, again from epicurious. Here it is. I addd some orange juice to it - just a tablespoon or so and it was super tasty with the cheesecake.

This cheesecake would be yummy with lemon or orange zest in it. Ms. Greenspan also has variations galore in her cookbook for this - chocolate and more. But you have to get the book to find out what they are.
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