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Hey Kids!  Yea, I know it’s been awhile.  I haven’t had a lot to say, perhaps. Have no fears though, I still cook and bake like a fiend, trust me, every glance in my mirror attests to this fact.

This month, however, when I made my pilgrimage to the Daring Baker Forum I was immediately reminded of this guy….

...time to make the donuts!

I figured if he could drag his begrudging butt out of bed daily and make thousands of donuts so could I…well, a small batch at least!

A HUGE Thank You to Lori of “Butter Me Up” for a fantastic challenge, which has brought me out of my hiatus with the DB.

Being that I have been lax with the whole bloggy thing, I feel the need to go slow with getting back in the saddle.  So expect no tome this go ’round nor any outrageous wit just a few pretty pictures and a kick ass recipe!

First Pretty Picture….Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Candied Bacon.

The recipe I used was one Lori suggested and can be found here.  I made a couple changes, first I halved the recipe, fifteen doughnuts and fifteen holes would not make my mirror any happier!  I also added 4 TBS. cocoa , 1 TBS. melted butter and omitted the nutmeg.  Being I have never made the recipe before I can’t say my substitutions had any ill effect but I know that I was very pleased with how things worked out.  I did have a little concern the “dough” was too moist but a little time in the fridge to chill and firm it helped in making it very workable.

Before a trip to the fridge...

...out of the fridge, rolled, cut and ready for a hot oil bath...

I managed to get 6 doughnuts and 6 holes out of the halved recipe, which I fried 3 holes at a time and 2 donuts at a time.    After the second batch of holes came out and cooled a bit, I just could not resist a little taste.  Hmmm, I was a little concerned, it seemed as if the dough had soaked up way too much oil.  Fortunately, it was just a case of not letting the oil temp up after the first fry.  I really didn’t think a few degrees off would be a bad thing…it was… 375° all the way kiddos!!

...fry , Baby, fry...

...off to the racks, just call me Torquemada!

glazed, topped and ready to go!

And that my friends was my time in the kitchen for this months Daring Baker Challenge.  Short and oh so sweet!!  Again, big Thank Yous go out to Lori, you brought me back!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

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Yea, I know that “afeared” is not a word but nothing else describes how I felt, when I was asked to do a wedding cake (scared sh*tless, runs a close second!).  A wedding cake with 8 days notice, with Christmas falling on the day before delivery!!!  Oh and I have failed to mention that this was my FIRST wedding cake!!!  Anyone that makes cakes knows a wedding cake is much more than just a cake.  It is a focal point on a tense bride’s big day, many people will (hopefully) “oooh and ahhh” over it, as well as taste it…..so it must be PERFECT!!!  If you know me, you may also know I have a tendency to be a little too hard on myself as far as my cakes go.  I never seem to be 100% satisfied with the end result, regardless of the raves it may receive, I always think I could have taken it a little further. So again, combine the fact it was my first one, I had 8 days notice and a major holiday fell in the mix as well and…..you guessed it….I was “afeared”!!!!

I am not going to bore anyone with a recitation of recipes but for one, the fondant, as everything was pretty standard but the fondant.  The cake was a vanilla Genoise (Italian sponge), with an ivory Italian buttercream (vanilla), the cake was “soaked” with a vanilla simple syrup and the layers filled with a vanilla raspberry coulis.  Pretty vanilla, huh??

On to the fondant.  I love to work with fondant, I love the look of a fondant covered cake, I love the possibilities fondant offers and I absolutely……HATE…. the taste of fondant, classic fondant, that is.  A few years back I was searching for a fondant recipe that might be better than the norm and I ran across Marshmallow Fondant.  Now as I said classic fondant just gives me the willies in the taste department, so I typically peel it off and discard it like a banana peel.  MM fondant has a bit more flavor and now I only peel off 50-75% of the covering….less waste….and I hate to waste!!!   For those of you who have worked with fondant but never MM fondant here is the recipe, for those who have never worked with any type of fondant and think MM might work for you, follow the above link, as it has some good pointers on working with fondant.

Marshmallow Fondant

  • 1lb. miniature marshmallows
  • 2-5 Tbs. water
  • 2lbs. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (min) Crisco (shortening)

Melt marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave by putting the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, open microwave and stir, repeat this until the marshmallows are melted.  Place 3/4 of the powdered sugar on the top of the melted marshmallow mix and stir to combine lightly.

Now grease your hands and counter GENEROUSLY and turn out the marshmallow mix and begin kneading it,  like you would bread dough.  Continue kneading and adding more sugar as you go, if the mix sticks to counter, add more crisco to the counter.  Continue till all sugar is incorporated and you get a smooth elastic dough (if the fondant tears easily when stretched it is too dry, add a few drops water and knead, continue this till you get a very elastic dough).

It is best to let the fondant rest overnight, this helps ensure that all the sugar has been absorbed.  Coat the fondant with a bit of crisco and wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest.  When ready to roll the fondant give it another good kneading and then proceed with rolling.

All in all the cake worked out well.  It did have a few “moments”……like the top tier was a bitch and it took me (much) longer to finish  than the other 2 tiers combined.  Another “moment” happened when we arrived at the venue only to realize that the piping bag, tips and extra buttercream were still at home!!!!  Aside from those few incidents it wasn’t as bad an experience as I had anticipated, the Bride and Groom seemed pleased, the guests “ooooh’d and ahhh’d” and the cake did not topple in any way shape or form.

I highly recommend to anyone that has a desire to make a wedding cake and has never done so….give it a go, it was definitely worth the trauma.  And to all those wedding cake veterans out there, I ask, when does the fear of the cake go away???

Yep kiddies, that time again…well yesterday was that time…Daring Baker reveal for August!  I know, again I have been remiss, again I am behind but then if I were on time, you all might get “afeared” that I had been abducted by aliens and replaced with some sort of pod person….so consistent and behind I shall be.

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First and foremost…..The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar
and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Second…The excuses and the story!

Excuse #1- ‘Tis august, the thermometer is bulging….who wants to turn on the oven?

Excuse #2 through infinity- Refer to excuse #1.

The Story…..As some of you know, I have been absent from our beloved DB for a bit, too busy, too tired, too whatever, at the beginning of this month I was happy as a clam for a cake, my kind of cake, so I swore to all the baking and blogging Gods that I would “hell or highwater” manage to find the time.  Then, of course, the month intervened, vacations, bee stings, etc, etc, etc (all of which are lovely stories in and of themselves but I know you don’t want to hear them).  Then this morning arrives and I am sitting here with my coffee and cig and in my reader I notice….Dobos…..DobosDOBOS!!!!   “Aw crap!!” (that isn’t really the retort but I am trying a kinder and gentler approach here).  Yep, John will be John!

So off to work I go…BTW did I mention today was Fudge Day?  Yea, aside from the 96 gallons of ice cream we have been going through in a week, today was my day to make 140 lbs of fudge. Between the ice cream, the fudge, an employee on vacation and various classes of returning college kids…yea I had time to plan an attack on making a Dobos!!!!  Along about 4pm, in walked my inspiration….Ray (and for everyone going “awww” and tearing up…please!)…it wasn’t so much him , as it was the package of raspberries he just had to have that he wanted me to come up with something to make from them.  But alas, my dear sweet partner in life didn’t WANT CAKE!!!! (Lis, I think you have the proper retort for this one…can you be the one to say it please?)  Crunch time, now I have 2 desserts to come up with, yea right like that is going to happen….Ray will just have to be content with his nightly PB&J sandwich before bed!!!!! Yes people, we keep Smuckers and JIF afloat, not to mention Wonder Bread (yea he has to have the spongy flavorless white crap bread and if it didn’t take an extra 20 seconds, the crusts would be cut off also!).  At all times we have on hand 1 drum o’ Jif and 2 jars preserves, one strawberry the other raspberry.  Hmmm, raspberries, raspberry preserves, peanut butter, cake, dessert….can you feel the impending crescendo?  Viola!!!!  PB&J Torte!!!

Lastly, I give you the Mechanics!!!

As with any Daring Baker challenge that I complete, you can find the recipe here, on various other DBer Blogs and of course on our above mentioned Hostesses sites as well.

Here are my tweaks:

To the egg yolks in the batter I added 1/3 cup creamy Jif ( I think a bit more would have served me well)

For the buttercream I subbed white chocolate and also added 1/4 cup strained rasp. preserves.

Instead of doing the free-form rounds, as I feel I am rotund enough, I chose square and thus used 1/4 sheet trays to bake in, hence the reason I feel I got alot of “lift” in my layers.  (although I wish I would have spent a little more time leveling the batter)

For the wedge embellishments I did a half moon shape and replaced the caramel with reduced  strained preserves.  I really wanted to do more of a crescent shape for a bit more lacy feel and also for a little spot to tuck in a raspberry but it didn’t happen!!!!

The guinea pigs will have at it tomorrow, so I will update you when the final verdict is in.  Up to this point I found it to be a great challenge!!!


Denise’s Birthday…must bake cake…what to do?

She’s Irish (update, I was mislead a bit…she isn’t Irish afterall), born the day after St Pat’s and likes Boston Cream Pie, Viola!, Irish twist on a Classic.

No sordid details on this one other than I have always wanted to bake a “Stout” cake and this seemed the time to do it!!!

Ok, 2 sordid details…

  • The batter is so damn good there is almost no need to bake the cake.
  • The scent of simmering stout, butter and cocoa is heaven and the scent of the cake baking is a must experience for yourself!!!!
Stout, Butter and Cocoa Heaven!

Stout, Butter and Cocoa Heaven!

Your typical Boston Cream Pie consists of three components

  • A Butter or Sponge Cake
  • A Dark Rum scented Custard Filling
  • A Chocolate Glaze or Ganache

My version differs only in 2 ways, The Stout Cake replaces the sponge/butter cake and instead of rum, well of course, I used Irish Whiskey.

Pastry Cream

adapted from Boston Cream Pie recipe from Yankee Magazine

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1/4cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Irish whiskey

In a saucepan, heat butter, milk, and light cream to just below a boil. While this mixture is cooking, combine sugar, cornstarch, and eggs in a bowl. Whip until ribbons form. When the butter-cream mixture reaches the boiling point, slowly whisk in the sugar-egg mixture and cook to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap (to prevent it from forming a skin). Chill overnight if possible. When thoroughly chilled, whisk to smooth out and flavor with Irish whiskey.

Ganache

  • 8 oz chopped chocolate bittersweet or semi-sweet
  • 3/4 whipping cream
  • 2 TBS Butter ( I use salted)

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat ( I often use the microwave for this step, of course using a microwave safe bowl). Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.

And now…………

Chocolate Stout Cake

Direct from the KA site using ingredients by weight option.

  • 16 ounces stout or dark beer, such as Guinness
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 ounces Dutch-process cocoa
  • 17 ounces KA unbleached AP flour  (I used Robin Hood)
  • 1 pound, 12 ounces sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 ounces sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8″ or two 9″ cake pans, and line them with parchment paper circles. Be sure your 9″ pans are at least 2″ deep.  Place the stout and butter in a large, heavy saucepan, and heat until the butter melts. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the cocoa powder.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sour cream.  Add the stout-cocoa mixture, mixing to combine.  Add the flour mixture and mix together at slow speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix again for 1 minute.  Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans.  Bake the layers for 35 minutes for 8″ pans, or 45 to 50 minutes for 9″ pans, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of their pans and returning to the rack to finish cooling completely before assembly.  Being that I was doing 2 layers and my 9″ pans are only 1 3/4″ deep I was lucky enough to get a very nice 6″ round as well from the batter.

The verdicts are in and all seem to be very positive on this one.  I ended up getting a few orders for this one as it sat, but my personal opinion was it would have been multitudes better without the custard filling.  Not that it was a bad addition but this is such a uniquely flavored cake the custard kind of competed a little more than it should have with that uniqueness.  I had one minor issue and that involved my 9″ pans, which aren’t 2″ deep, as suggested…I should have started testing for doneness a little sooner than I did, I think I could have gotten away with only 40 minutes oven time.

From beginning to batter to baked!

From beginning to batter to baked!

This one is most definitely a keeper!   Although a very special occasion kind of cake as if you take a look at the nutrition information on the KA site, you will see this isn’t a cake for the faint of heart!!!!  It’s slightly malty taste and it’s just shy of sweet chocolatey richness is something everyone should try!!!

Cascades of Chocolate...what better finish?

Cascades of Chocolate...what better finish?

And finally here is why I spoke with such authority against the custard version that everyone raved over… my little 6″ gem with a simple powdered sugar glaze.   Hands off this one is all mine!!!!!!!

6stout1

Hands off!

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties.

Another challenge and well it didn’t go so well!!  As for taste and overall ease it was a good one.  As for what I envisioned and what I executed that is another story, which I choose not to bore you with at this time.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

As is typical of DB challenges we were given a bit of leeway with what we could do with a particular element and the ice cream in this challenge was where I chose to play.  Aside from steak my all time favorite flavor on earth is dark chocolate and orange, so I decided to use a recipe I ran across awhile back but had yet to have reason to make.

Chocolate-Studded Grand Marnier Ice Cream Recipe

from Fern Glen Inn B&B

I followed the recipe to the letter with only an addition of 1tsp. of orange extract.   Fan-freakin’-tastic!!  This stuff had the power to hide a multitude of sins and considering what I did to the Valentino, I guess I made the ice cream work overtime!!!

Now for the sad sad details of a simple 3 ingredient cake!!! I had on hand some Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate,  so I didn’t run out for the bitter chocolate that I wanted.  I figured I would add just a smidge of the hersheys special dark cocao I had as well, that would give me more the flavor I wanted.

RED FLAG #1

(don’t change that which you have never done before)

I melted the chocolates together and well I ended up not with that lovely molten chocolate texture I know and love but something a bit more paste like.  It hadn’t seized but it wasn’t right, it just was too dense for those delicate egg whites to stand up to.

RED FLAG #2

(listen to yourself, you know damn well better than that)

So on to the folding of the egg whites I went, yea I deflated them more than I knew was good but they still had enough lift that I figured it wouldn’t be a total loss.  Which to tell the truth it wasn’t.

The end product was a little “shorter” than expected and hoped, as I was going to split the cake and create a lovely layered look.  And since that didn’t happen, please see the above photo of a snowy screen.

What I planned for and what I ended up with are polar opposites but the overall taste factor was very good.

Here now are a few photos of the progress before I realized my vision was for naught.

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The not so smooth chocolate!!

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The egg whites awaiting deflation!

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The not as short as expected end result!

Folding the chopped chocolate into the ice cream.

Folding the chopped chocolate into the ice cream.

As for a final photo of the finished product….  truthfully I wasn’t about to waste the pixels!!!!!   It tasted great but it “weren’t” so pretty.  Please though look here for other great and talented bakers who managed to bring their vision to the plate.

Luckily for me there is next month!!!!


Happy Birthday to you...

Happy Birthday to you...

You all may recall Carol, well she managed to turn “36”  on Jan 28th and of course I did whip up a little something something for her.  Carol and Scott, of course, both LOVE chocolate…truthfully I don’t think they “do” anything but chocolate, save the occasional peanut butter; so I went to my favorite go-to chocolate cake and thought I would top it with some sort of peanut butter icing.  After perusing multitudes of PB icing recipes I settled on this one, from Blondie and Brownie, and boy am I glad I did.  This stuff was peanut butter silk!!!  It came together like a breeze and OMG was it good…imagine the center of a Reese’s cup but light fluffy and… well all I can say is MAKE IT!!!  Now some of you may laugh at this one as you already may know this but I discovered something while making this, kind of a John Eureka moment.  I have always made Swiss Buttercreams the old fashioned way…pot of simmering water, bowl with egg whites and sugar and a hand whisk, well not no mo’!!!!!  It was late, I was tired and I didn’t have the energy to whip that merengue by hand, so enter stage right my handy dandy hand mixer with whisk  attachment in tow.  Yes, the most obvious often eludes us at times.  Now I am not saying I will never make Swiss Buttercream by hand again but now I know there is really no need to do so.

Just before the Peanut Butter addition

Just before the Peanut Butter addition

Ok, this is a quicky post and I am off.  Once again Happy Birthday Carol and you guys enjoy Florida we will see you soon!

Almost Done!

Almost Done!

Done and Dressed

Done and Dressed

First Cut

First Cut

and lastly the innards!!!

and lastly the innards!!!

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??

-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!)

OK, so this is way past due!!!!! Ryen’s Birthday was weeks ago, June 6th to be exact!!! A friend, Amanda, asked me to do a birthday cake for one of her college friends, a group of them were getting together for a Sex in the City premier weekend and it happened to coincide with Ryen’s birthday. Well, I know nothing about the show as I have never seen one episode but a bit of research and shoes, purses and huge flowers seemed to be the way to go!!!

After a couple days of brainstorming I finally started to bake and assemble the fondant coated components. As per my usual, the part I thought was going to be easy, the purse and the part I feared, the shoe surprised me totally and swapped places. Coating the shoe in fondant took under 30 mins, the purse damn near 2 hours!!!! But then that is my life, never as expected.

Unfortunately, the same happened for the weekend get together. Ryen, a sufferer of lupus, had a flair and was unable to fly in. She had hoped that she would be able to get back to feeling well enough but it just didn’t happen. So in true Sex in the City style, the other girls donned their pumps and celebrated Ryen!! After a night of celebration, the girls returned home for nightcaps, cake and of course a chorus of Happy Birthday Ryen!

Sans Candles but all for You, Ryen!!

Happy Birthday Ryan

Here is a shot of the finished components

before their trip to Amanda’s place.

In progree

And for those of you that need to know, it was a red velvet cake, soaked in a blackberry/raspberry rum sauce (also what is in the martini glass) and covered in a dark chocolate buttercream. The fondant is a marshmallow fondant.