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Yep it’s DB reveal time once again and this month’s challenge comes to us from none other than Chris of Mele Cotte fame!!! It is a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, from the book Great Cakes by Carole Walter. A most beautiful cake indeed. I have just completed it and it remains untasted, I will let you all know how that is at some point, I am sure.

I have been known to bake a cake or two in my day, mainly using fondant as a topper….I friggin’ suck at piping (by the way, I think this may not be the most G rated post, so beware). My friends and their friends always ask me to whip em up something or other and they always send many “oohs and ahs” my way; they also tell me that I need to watch this show on The Food Network, Ace of Cakes. Truthfully me and TV don’t get along. Mainly I watch a bit of tube before bed, usually the Golden Girls, we’ll miss you Estelle, and a bit of Discovery Channel, rarely anything else. So I finally TIVO’d the show and last night watched it for the first time. These people fuckin’ rock!!!!!!! I love ’em. These are my kinda cakes. This morn while having my coffee and planning my attack on finishing the Gateau, I did a little research into Ace of Cakes, Duff and Charm City Cakes. Well, on the TFN/Ace of cakes site they have vid snippets of some of the custom cakes they do. A Les Paul Guitar cake had a little incident with some spilled coloring, of course it was fixed and they then pan to Duff who says, something akin to….”Smoke and Mirrors”.

Now for me, this cake has been a most challenging one, not because it was difficult, nor too terribly time consuming but mainly because I made some STUPID mistakes. Let me explain the title of this post…

Ain’t She PURTY??

Ain't she purty

Ain't she purty

Smoke and Mirrors Baby, Smoke and Mirrors!

Now take a closer look…

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors

More Smoke

More Smoke

You laughing yet?? I know I was!!! And that my friends is just the exterior!!!

The foundation upon which this baby was built is not up to code!!

From the end to the beginning we go, just follow the bouncing ball…

So as I said, this cake was not at all difficult as far as the prep and assembly…a few prep steps, a pulse or 2 in the processor, whip some eggs then add a little of this and a little of that. The batter was beautiful!!!! The recipe called for a 10×2 round pan but I wanted a tower so I went with 8×3!! Is your brain screaming at ya the same thing mine screamed at me?? HUH? Mine said to me, “you need to throw a collar on this bitch!” but do I listen? NOPE, that would be too easy to do!! So gingerly I place the pan in the oven and traipse off to finish some cleaning upstairs. Somewhere between 10-15 mins later Ray comes home from work and up the steps screaming, “What the hell are you doing the f*cking house is filled with smoke?” Yep kiddies we had overflow!!! Now with all the egg yolks, whites and nuts, the burnt proteins created a Hellish eau de parfum, one that LINGERS. Not much to do but wait and see, what I could see looked salvageable….yea, like I am Sanford and Son!!!!

So on the counter to cool then to release from the pan. Initially it looked damn nice, aside from a bit of a mess down the sides of the pan. However, once un-molded and let to cool there was a noticeable depression…”No Mr. President we’re not talking recession, we’re talking depression!!!”. Why I didn’t photograph this is beyond me, but trust me, you will soon see that it was there!! Basically, the science here is very similar to a volcano, there is a hard exterior crust with a magma chamber in the center, when the magma exits the exterior collapses…1/3 of my cake was

EMPTY!!

I swear I heard the cake cry….

“Throw me to the birds…birds.…birds.…birds…birds

Ok, decision time, “redo or use what ya got?” Take one guess!!!! If you said redo well you would be wrong, I screwed it once I wasn’t gonna screw it twice!!! I am 44 not 20, twice in one day is a rare occasion!!!!! The recipe calls for 3 layers, I really only had cake for 2 and I wasn’t baking more so,again what did I do? “Wow!”, you guys are quick studies, yes of course I went with 3 layers!!!!! I got 2 very nice layers and one donut!!!

Hole in a Donut!!!

Hole in a Donut!!!

Luckily, this cake has not only a buttercream filling but also a whipped cream filling as well, so after soaking and filling the first layer, I mounded a nice volume of whipped cream to fill the void, so to speak, and level off the middle layer…

HOT DAMN Alice, it worked!!!!!

Smoke and Whipped Cream!!!!!

Smoke and Whipped Cream!!!!!

I topped it with the 3rd and final layer, gave it a quick glaze with orange marmalade (recipe calls for apricot but that just isn’t me), then put a crumb coat of buttercream on it. The cake and remaining buttercream went back in the fridge. After a bit of a rest, I pull everything back out and whip up the icing to get it spreadable so I can add a final smooth layer of icing. Back in the fridge everything went, it all looked so very beautiful, wonderfully level top and oh so smooth sides. All is well!!

Ready for ganache and piping...LOL!

Ready for ganache and piping...LOL!

I now started thinking, I GOTTA PIPE! Oh Shit!!!!!! I knew if I were lucky I could have managed a very remedial shell border but this cake has a chocolate ganache coating, any mistake with a light colored icing would scream…

“Here I am !!”

Time for a diversion

“S&M baby, S&M”, no, you pervs…. Smoke and Mirrors!!!! So instead of a full coating of ganache, I made a rather thick one and then let it slowly ooze down the sides of the cake (reminiscent of the batter that oozed from the middle of it earlier!). This would draw all eyes from the poor piping soon to occur. Now as they say, “the 3rd time is the charm”, out of the fridge came the buttercream, quick whip, load it in the bag and do a test pipe.

WTF?!?!?!?

What occurred next was a nightmare, I squeezed the bag…it “splootched”, it “splattered” praline buttercream followed by rivulets of golden buttah!!! The only description I can give, and it ain’t purty, would be to say that it appeared my pastry bag had a touch of Montezuma’s Revenge!!!! What were my options?

  1. attempt to repair buttercream using the suggested methods in the recipe
  2. make a new batch of buttercream
  3. say “Fakk it” and forge ahead

If you really need me to tell you, here is what I did….

Fakk it, Fakk it, Fakk it, Fakk it, Fakk it, Fakk it, Fakk IT !!!!

You have already seen those results!!!

And that my dear friends is the story of my Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, it still remains not only untasted but also uncut, so I am clueless as to what its innards are looking like. We will find out tomorrow, when I take it in to work and gather up my Guinea Pigs (as most of them happily refer to themselves when it is cake time!!). Of course there will be photos and maybe even a word or two but really nothing I can say or show now will convey the importance of

Smoke and Mirrors

The Guinea Pigs have spoken…

This is one of the best cakes to date!

I concur!!!!

Aside from the train wreck interior, this was one sweet moist marvel!!

Are there any survivors??

Are there any survivors??

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Stephanie of “The Happy Sorceress” has hosted a Blog Party for 3 years now and I just got lucky enough to get to know her through the Daring Bakers and a chat/baking group a few of us have gotten together. I am now pleased to say that I will be on hand for her 3rd anniversary Blog Party.

I first came across it awhile back when she hosted a Buffy the Vampire themed party…I really wanted to attend as I am a huge Vamp fan but truly I have never watched Buffy a day in my life!!! So I thought I would wait …the only requirement for attendance is that you must bring an appetizer/finger food and a bev!!!! That’s pretty easy and from what I hear well worth it for the fun to be had!

For her 3rd anniversary party she is allowing our contributions to be our choice, usually these shindigs are themed but sweetie that she is we are allowed our hearts content on this one.

I decided on a twist on a simple italian Bruschetta for my app. I have seen quite alot of cool things being done with watermelon as of late….grilled, in savory salads…all kinds of different takes on this summer classic!!! Easy as all get out and and mighty tasty.

Simple and basic recipe is to replace watermelon for tomato in your favorite bruschetta topper.

My bruschetta is a baguette cut on the diagonal and grilled, rub with a clove of garlic, top with a shaving of dried mozzarella then a mix of watermelon dice, balsamic/olive oil blend, red onions (sm dice) and torn basil. ( I found regular basil to be a bit overpowering with the watermelon on my first go round, so I have since used a cinnamon-basil I got from the local farmer’s market). Top all that with a generous sprinkle of grated ParmigianoReggiano.

As for my beverage/cocktail….yes, I am definitely bringing a cocktail, it’s been a hectic week!! I had made candied orange peel and had quite a lot of leftover syrup from it and thought that it might be a nice sweetener for iced tea. Ok, so let’s keep the Italian thing going on here, what to do…..

In keeping with the simple thing as well, I basically made a strong brewed tea, sweetened it with a bit of the leftover syrup, gave a few hefty glugs of limoncello and then garnished with orange and lemon slices. Now I am no bartender but I would think a more proper recipe would be…

  • Fill an 8 oz rocks glass with ice
  • Add 1.5 oz limoncello
  • Top off with sweetened tea
  • Garnish

Can’t wait to arrive and get a sampling of everyones fare. Looking forward to meeting some new folks as well. I think the invite is still open, so if you have the time and have the desire drop Stephanie a line and I hope to see ya there!!!

For those of you that have visited before and are wondering….yes I do cook things other than cake!!!  Seems I have been on a cake binge as of late, but really I haven’t made anything worthy of a post till this one!

This particular recipe came my way through my browser’s reader and immediately I knew I was gonna give it a shot.  Not because it was terribly different, terribly hard or any such madness but because it sounded terribly up my alley as far as taste goes!!!

Now I love lobster, filet and all the culinary stars but my favorite meal of all time, ALL TIME I say is…

The Hamburger!

No turkey burgers or veggie burger for me, I absolutely adore the good old fashioned 100% beef hamburger!!  So are you aware yet that I love hamburgers??  Well if not….hamburger, hamburger, hamburger, beef, beef, beef, YUM, YUM, YUM!!!

Now I am not gonna bore ya with the recipe details, as I said it is terribly simple, so check it out here!

What I did do differently this time was bake my own hamburger buns.  I am learning my way around yeast and I wanted to give it a go.  I sent out a request to my baking buddies and was rewarded with not one but 5 easy yet tasty recipes for breads that could easily show off a good burger.  I decided upon Bread Chick Mary’s ” No Fail Farmer’s Bread“.  I did an eeney, meeney, miney, moe kinda thing to choose which recipe to use but I was pleased I landed on this one.  The reason being it said no fail, well, I am not yet steady on my feet with yeast, so I figured this would be a test.  If I screwed this one up, then maybe I should stay away from the yeast.  Well, it is truly no fail and now I am working my way through the other for recipes I received.

That being said, I am just gonna go for the quick menu, a picture or two and a skedaddle out the door here….

  • Cheddar burgers with balsamic onions and chipotle ketchup
  • Watermelon Salad with Balsamic, basil and red onions
  • Busch’s Baked beans (concession to Ray)
  • No Fail Farmer’s bread
Buns awaiting a rise!!!

Buns awaiting a rise!!!

Done Buns!!!!!!!

Done Buns!!!!!!!

Now that's a burger!!

Now that's a burger!!

Ciao for now…..or would that be CHOW!!!!

No, I am not late this time!!!!

Katherine at 89!!!

Katherine at 89!!!

Katherine is a dear woman, whose daughter works in the mall where our store is located.  She comes to visit and always has an opinion to give!!!  She is a bit frail but sharp as a tack and I would never want to cross her, ever!!!   Altho, in truth she is pretty much a pussy cat!!

This year marks her 89th birthday and as always we have a little party for her at work.  Unfortunately she was on vacation visiting her sister when the day came, so we had to delay her celebration till her return.

As is typical, the best laid plans always encounter a snag.  On the day of her party, we had intentions of presenting her with cake and ice cream and a chorus of Happy Birthday around 6ish.  Well one person was busy so it got delayed, then another was busy and again more delay…this trend continued till closing.  But through each attempt, she sat and watched, noting the flurry of activity, then the downfall of it.  Finally after closing, we all gathered and she was brought to our cafe tables.  She sat there lookin’ as non plussed as she could but if a closer look were taken, she was watching us as if saying….

“You fools, if I were in charge of this I would have no idea what you are up to!”  The dear that she is, she gave us our surprise.

Happy Birthday Katherine!!!!

Variation of DB Opera Cake for Katherine

Variation of DB Opera Cake for Katherine

The cake is a variation of the DB Opera cake for May.  The filling is a raspberry buttercream, the mousse on top is blueberry and the cake is sponge, as nuts aren’t good for Katherine.

-Uh, what ruckus? -I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus. –Could you describe the ruckus, sir? -Watch your tongue, young man. …”

Bakeanistas

Bakeanistas

No, really I am not talking about the Breakfast Club today but the Bakeanista Club, not really a club but it fits with the prose!!! I am however going to refer to a ruckus! And guess who it was that caused said ruckus?? You got it, Moi!!!!!

The Bakeanistas are just a group of folks that get together once every month or perhaps two to chat online and bake. This month we had a a guest visiting with us, just to see what we were about and how this chatty bakey thing worked…Halley it was such an honor to have you want to join in. Now I am not going to explain why Halley wanted to sit in but if things work out I am sure there will be much interest in the future.

So back to this ruckus. We had a few choices of what we were going to bake, we voted and we ended up with Cassata alia Sicilia. Apparently, there are two versions of this cake, one hails from Napoli, the other Sicily. The one from Napoli has a whipped cream frosting while the one from Sicily is typically much more elaborate with Fondant, candied fruit and marzipan fruit decoration. Well it seems I was the only one headed to Sicily on this one, I mentioned fondant in one of the emails back and forth and the ruckus rolled!!!

Cassata in the Garden

Cassata in the Garden

“Fondant? This cake has fondant?” “I hate fondant!” “Oh no, fondant!” and on it went. Well, in defense of fondant I have found a recipe that is tasty, that is easy and that more often than not is eaten as opposed to being peeled off the cake and discarded. Try it, you are gonna like it!!!!!

For me baking day was a little hectic, as I had guests coming that evening and I had a ton of work to do. I didn’t get to spend the time with the Bakeanistas that I would have liked….I missed a ton of fun, I am sure!!! But I was back and forth and caught snippets of the typical Bakeanista behavior!!!!

So let me give ya a quick low down on this cake…. it consists of

  • Pan di Spagna-an italian sponge cake
  • Ricotta filling-think cannoli
  • Whipped cream frosting or a powdered sugar glaze on top
  • Decoration of Fondant (Sicily) or nuts and fruit (Napoli)

Ricotta, candied orange peel, pistachio and chocolate, Oh My!

Ricotta, candied orange peel, pistachio and chocolate, Oh My!

This is not an overly sweet and decadent tasting cake but a very satisfying old world style concoction. For me it brought back many memories of days gone by and I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to make it (it will be made again). It is not a cake to eat huge slabs of and it will serve quite a few people (12-16) easily.

6 people served so far!!!  Dats alotta cake!!!

6 people served so far!!! Dats alotta cake!!!

Unlike the in school detention of the Breakfast Club, this was a much more fun and enjoyable time. Although, like in the movie after all was said and done we all walked off into the afternoon sun to our own different worlds. Now I won’t go through and name the brain, the nerd, the jock and so on, like in the movie but because of my ruckus causing tendencies I think I may be labeled the Rebel. But for your viewing pleasure here are the Bakeanistas who baked

Now that isn’t the entire posse, some for various reasons weren’t able to bake or join in on the chat but check them out nonetheless, there are some very talented folks in this bunch!!!

Yea, yea, yea…I know again WAY LATE!!!!! But really it has been a busy past couple of weeks.

Scott and Carol - 33 yrs strong!

Scott and Carol - 33 yrs strong!

Carol, the doll that she is turned 35 this year, yet she has been married to Scott for 33 years, as of June 28th!!!! How you may ask is that possible, well the powers of chocolate (and of course I am not gonna argue with Carol!!).

Being that they both love chocolate and again I am not one to argue, I decided to bake them a little chocolate dream!! Now Scott mentioned that he really likes chocolate and peanut butter (who doesn’t) but for some reason I didn’t see the peanut as befitting a celebration of such magnitude, so I upped the ante to Hazelnuts.

I had a plan, now to gather the elements with which to implement it.

The cake comes from my dear sweet DB buddy Lis, anyone who hasn’t read her blog MUST!! Especially the post about the “Mothership“, that would be the cake I chose for S&C. BTW Lis my cake too had brains!!!

The buttercream comes from another DBer and bud (in this case buddette), Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice fame! Apparently, the cake I promised her has now been upsized because someone deleted the email with this fantastic recipe in it. Initially she had taunted a group of us by stating she had just made the world’s best tasting chocolate buttercream, here you will find the recipe. Try it, you will find she exaggerated not!

I filled this Anniversary concoction with the easiest of things….Nutella. Yea, hazelnuts seem to be a theme with me this month, be patient though my friends this Filbert Fetish will soon make itself clear. Till then, check out Chris at Mele Cotte, she is the Mother of all this Madness!

A quick coating of chocolate ganache and some hazelnut garnish and voila….

A Chocolate Concoction

befitting 33 years of Chocolate Bliss!!!

Congratulations Scott and Carol

here’s to another 33!

(by then Carol should just be hitting 40!)

No, I am not burnt!!!!

No, I am not burnt!!!!

“What the Hell?” you ask???? “Did he go and fall asleep with the oven on?”

Not at all kiddies!!!!! First let me say this…I HAVE been sitting on this post way too long! I baked my 3rd go round of the DB danish just a few days past last month’s reveal but I am just gettin’ around to telling ya about it!

Now as you may know, once upon a time I was “afeared” of the old yeast beast… not no mo’!!!!! I am perusing 5 recipes at the moment for some crusty bread I am baking tomorrow, more on that later though! So after reading many many DB blogs and their adventures down the Old Dane trail, something kept gnawing at me. One ingredient that is so often apart of DB challenges made it into the filling on this one but not the dough (at least in the blogs that I managed to get to, if anyone else did the same as I, then all I can say is “Great minds…”) I saw it as a stand-alone filling, I saw it combined with fruit, nuts and various quantities of both but again I didn’t see it in the dough.

“Is there a reason for this absence?”, I asked. “Does this one ingredient have some ill affect on yeast?” I laughed at that one, hell I had been killing yeast for years, whats the worst that adding this could do? But I thought about it and realized I had seen many a yeast product done using this, so it was not harmful to the little buggers.

Well, buckaroos it is summer and I decided it was time to dive into the pool! The chocolate pool, that is!!! Yep you got it, that isn’t a “burnt to a crisp” braid you see up above, that is a Chocolate Braid!

And boy what a Chocolate Braid it was!!!! As for the dough I followed the original DB recipe with only one omission (the cardamom) and one addition (1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa). As for the filling, well that was just an on the fly kinda thing…

  • 3/4 cup fine chopped Hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt

I mixed that altogether, mounded it down the center of my dough and braided away! I didn’t do the dual temps called for in the original recipe but just gave it a good 27 mins at 350 and all was well!! Again the topper was a simple powdered sugar glaze but instead of water I used Frangelico!

Frangelico and Coffee the breakfast of Champions! Well, perhaps this one categorizes better as a dessert but a thin slice with a strong French or Italian Roast would definitely send one off to the office with a smile on their face!

Glazed and ready to rumble!!!

Glazed and ready to rumble!!!

Ok, so I am not a food stylist but damn it was good!!!!

Ok, so I am not a food stylist but damn it was good!!!!

I have half of the dough in the freezer and since the oven will be kicking it tomorrow, I think I may just bake it as well. Maybe fill it with marshmallows, graham crackers and dark chocolate…..s’more Danish anyone????