Wednesday, October 12, 2016

TWD/BWJ: Wedding Cake

Here we are.
At the end of the Baking With Julia odyssey.
Over 4 1/2 years.
Celebrating with a special cake.
Seems just right.

Lots of steps, and in the end, all motivation to produce beautiful decorations evaporated. Quick and easy won out when I saw the Halloween things at the grocery. Oh yes, the cake was good. But that buttercream scared me, especially after a couple of days in and out of the fridge. Raw egg yolks, even mixed with hot sugar syrup, make me nervous. So we didn't eat it all. Didn't need to. It was way too big for us anyway. Even a small version.

Here are some photos:

Had to break my "no-Walmart" rule to find almond paste.
Only made one batch of the cake mix.

Closest thing we had to appropriate-sized pans.
A casserole dish and a small springform pan.

Made half a batch of meringue for the Almond Dacquoise.
One of my favorite things about this entire project has been the equipment
that I've collected. See that measuring spoon? Best thing ever.
It sits level on a counter, has an elongated end to fit in spice jars,
and the set is magnetized. They find each other in a drawer!

The Dacquioise ready to go in the oven.
Seven hours to bake cramped my style. Left it in overnight.

Next day, the layers were split, a buttercream dam piped around the edge,
and warm apricot jam poured on. A meringue was added, then more 
buttercream and apricot jam, and finally the other half of the cake layer.

Then the crumb coat. I had an assistant.
Yes, this is the one who started college just before
Baking With Julia began.
She graduated and came back home.
Happy to have her sticking around the nest for now.
We've had two graduations and a retirement
since this project started. 

Chillin' in the fridge.
Thank goodness for flexible shelving.

Our little skeleton family. Down to one dog now.
We sure do miss Rachel and Sallie.

There's a little marzipan in there.

Pikachu and a pumpkin on top.
And the layers. The layers!
Couldn't believe that meringue stayed crisp
after being spread with jam and buttercream.
But it did. It was a nice addition.

And there's our Lady.
A huge thank-you to everyone who participated in the Tuesdays With Dorie/ Baking With Julia group. I learned SO much from you. Of course, Tuesdays With Dorie still goes on. The group has also been baking from Dorie's book, Baking Chez Moi, for some time now. I must say that I've grown to love BCM. And at the moment, I'm eagerly anticipating Dorie's newest book, Dorie's Cookies, which comes out in a couple of weeks. What the world needs now is love, sweet love...and cookies!!!

Here's a shoe:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

TWD/BWJ: Crispy Cocoa Cookies

It's June already?
Obviously there's been some sort of anomaly in the space-time continuum.

I'm just going to jump on in.

This recipe popped up on the do-list.
And I had all the ingredients.
There was a video (this recipe starts about 5 1/2 minutes in).
And it was easy.

Apparently a miracle occurred during that wrinkle in time.

Let's see some pictures:

At this point, the dough has to be refrigerated for an hour.
By then it's hard as a rock and has to warm up.
One day I'll be brave enough NOT to chill it first.

In the meantime, I needed to make some detergent.
You heard that right. Detergent.
Been making my own for years.

Here's THAT recipe:
1 bar ivory soap, grated
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda

Mix together.
I use an old coffee scoop as a measure.
3 scoops for a large load in my high efficiency front-loader.
2 scoops for a smaller load.

That's it. Aren't you glad you came by?

Now that the cookie dough is too hard to roll, let's try it anyway.

Didn't have a round cutter, but had a variety of others.
Everything from state shapes to Christmas
to my mother's old-timey "bridge club" cutters.

Thin crispy goodness.
If I added spices, I bet they'd taste like those IKEA cookies.
My daughter suggested coffee.
Good idea. With them or in them.
There are possibilities ahead.

The other Baking With Julia participants are here.

And here's a shoe. There's much to catch up on and a great many shoes that have crossed my path since my last post. But here's one I saw yesterday. At a bus stop.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

TWD/BWJ: Buttermilk Bread In a Bread Machine

Just when you least expect it, a miracle occurs!
Had given up on finding anything simple in Baking With Julia.
I was wrong.
Not too big to admit it.

Here are the instructions:
Dump everything in the bread machine.
Turn it on.
Wait for the beep.

Didn't even know there was such a thing as powdered buttermilk. It's one of those things I could have used SO many times. When I looked, there it was. Right on the grocery shelf. Seriously? It was there all the time and I didn't even know to look.

If you haven't heard of Pam Grout, I highly recommend her books. E-squared helped me see the world in a whole new way. Experiments in the magic of the universe. Things show up when you start looking for them. Kind of like that little tub of powdered buttermilk.

Full disclosure. After letting the bread machine do all the work, I watched the video of Lora Brody making the bread with Julia. Maybe next time I will take the risen dough out of the machine and shape it up, or bake it in a loaf pan. This time I was happy to let the machine do the baking.

Homemade yeast bread is hard to beat. Even if it's machine-made. Heck, Julia couldn't tell the difference and that's good enough for me. My second piece of advice for the day: slice it thin and make a killer tuna melt. Serve with homemade bread and butter pickles. You will not be sorry.

A few others made the bread. You can find them here.

I'll leave you with a shoe. From a trip to my hometown last summer. Was having lunch with my best friend from childhood (and adulthood, even though we live on different sides of the Atlantic now) and spotted the shoe out the window of the restaurant. No, it's not a truck stop, just looks that way. And what's better than a huge truckload of hay? Anyway, tomorrow is Big Susan's birthday. Wish we could sit next to each other and have California Chicken Salad and House Tea again.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

TWD/BCM: Lemon Squares, French-Style

I love it when Dorie upscales a "normal" recipe!

The amount of butter in this recipe is shocking.
Over a pound.
No wonder it's good.
Cut small pieces and nobody gets hurt.

I pulled one of those ancient kitchen tools off the wall. A juicer that did a great job on the lemons, even filtering out all the seeds. Not certain where it came from, but there's a chance it was my mother's. Made me feel good. It's the little things.

 Rolled out the bottom crust with a "shooter" glass. (Not my mother's!)

The crust was pre-baked, then covered with chilled lemon curd, crumbled up bits of the same shortbread dough as the crust, and chopped almonds. A second baking transformed the topping into crunchy wonderfulness. For me, it was the almonds that took it over the top.  I used roughly chopped whole almonds. Didn't worry about blanching them. And liked it that way.

Those dark edges were... chewy, yummy.

You can see what the other Tuesday With Dorie bakers thought about the lemon squares here.

One more thing. I know my photos leave something to be desired. I've edited them on my computer but when I go to upload here, they revert back to the original. Anybody got tips about Mac's new Photos app? I've googled it. Read the Photos help. Nothing addresses this issue. There's probably some simple thing I'm doing wrong. The files don't retain the titles I've given them either. And I have to search for everything. Good grief, I didn't know it would take me this long to make the switch. But Windows got way too user-unfriendly for me. All in all, I love the Mac, just need to figure out Photos. So for now, it's bad photos or nothing. I'm trying to get back to posting. One of these days, I might even do it on the designated Tuesday! There's always hope.

I'll leave you with a shoe. A magical shoe which a friend texted me a picture of. Two days later I found myself in that area and it was still there! Seriously, how many times does one see a blue high heel, sitting upright in the parking lot of a Verizon store? Looks like Cinderella had a problem with her phone.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

TWD/BCM: Carrot-Tangerine Cake

OK, so it was supposed to be "Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake"
Didn't have the right pan. 
Didn't want to buy one.
Sometimes you make do.

Here's a secret.
I keep ginger in the freezer.
It grates up just fine when frozen.
Sometimes I don't even peel it.
You can gasp now.

My baby loaf pans.
Not fluted.

Used the wrong grater.
Smaller would have been better.

It's not like I didn't have others to choose from.

Added plenty of orange glaze.

We liked this nice little ginger-orange cake. Would have been hard pressed to identify it as carrot cake in a blind taste test. See what the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers thought here.

And now, a shoe:

TWD/BWJ: Cornmeal-Currant Biscotti

Thank goodness there was cornmeal involved.
Our freezer is full of little brown bags of organic cornmeal.
It's wonderful stuff, from the CSA.

But I have a cornbread confession to make:
Martha White Hot-Rize.
With real bacon grease and real buttermilk.
In an iron skillet.
Can't beat it.

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. 

I don't know about you, but I don't immediately think of cornmeal when I hear the word "Venice". However, it seems that Venice is "known for its cookies, and among the best known are these cornmeal-currant biscotti called zaleti." Never been to Italy. It's at the top of the list. Gotta make that happen. Quick.

For once, I watched the video WHILE I was baking.
Needed some direction on shaping.

No currants in this house, but we did have raisins.
Soaked them a little to plump.

Fast and easy. Which was unexpected for a recipe from Baking With Julia. A welcome surprise.

Check out the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers who made these little gems.

And here's a shoe:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Tuesdays With Dorie: Catch-Up for 2015

This has gone on long enough.
The guilt is eating me alive.
Obviously, I'd rather bake than blog about it.
But it's time to come clean.
So, quick as I can, I'll hit up the recipes from 2015.
Some from Baking With Julia, some from Baking Chez Moi.
Let's do this.

Started to lose my way in February:

BCM: Pink Grapefruit Tart 
Luscious and wonderful, but mostly it
brings back memories of many different
components. Coming together. Just
 as my husband was admitted to the
 hospital for 3 days. Sigh.
Sometimes the timing is off and
there's nothing you can do.

Then came MARCH:

BCM: Lemon Madeleines
easier than the BWJ version we made in 2013

BCM: Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars
Seriously? Caramelized rice crispies on top of a cookie
with chocolate? Dorie is a genius. 
Unfortunately, my scraper paid the price
for my inexperience with very hot sugar.


OK, not Tuesdays with Dorie at all. These are the
I don't mind telling you that Ree knows her stuff.

BCM: Limoncello Cupcakes
Confession - never bought a bottle of Limoncello before.
What a great excuse!

BWJ: Sweet Ricotta Pie
Wish I remembered more about this one. Wait -
licorice-flavored liqueur. I do remember. Another trip to
the liquor store. I liked the Limoncello better.

BCM: Coconut Tapioca, the adventure begins. First
try was a total bust. Just nasty.
Went to lots of interesting stores looking for the
large pearl tapioca. Bought them all.
Even the black kind. 
In the end, I never found one that I liked.
Think I'll stick with Minute Tapioca.


BCM: Nutella buttons, little nuggets of heaven

BCM: Rhubarb Upside-Down Baby Cakes
Much as I try, upside-down cakes rarely
do it for me. This was no exception.
Not bad, just not my favorite.

A brief intermisson to tell you about the Rolling Stones concert at Georgia Tech in June. Can't remember the last time we went to an outdoor stadium concert. If there was ever a time to sit at the top of the stadium, this was it. Georgia Tech is right in the middle of Atlanta. The night view of the city was fantastic. And the Stones - what can I say? They were amazing! EVERY favorite song. Mick still has the moves and more energy than many men half his age. A couple of pictures, then we'll get back to baking.


Totally not TWD, but aren't these dinosaur
cookies adorable? We were very proud of ourselves.
Picked up the cookie cutters in the gift shop at Fernbank
Natural History Museum. One of our favorite places.

My mother's famous Peach Pie. Technically, it's
the apple pie recipe from the old red-plaid Better
Homes and Gardens cookbook. But with peaches.

There's one TWD recipe I don't seem to have a picture of. Lost in the cross-over between old (Windows) computer and new Macbook. Still haven't figured it all out. But sometime in there BCM's Chocolate-Cherry Brownies got lost. I seem to recall that they needed extra time in the oven. Tasty though. I mean, how could that go wrong?

I did manage to come up with a blog post for the Strawberry Shortcake, Franco-American Style.

Here's a reminder.


BWJ: White Chocolate Patty Cake was made at my
sister's house while I was on a visit there. Another 
recipe that seemed unnecessarily... complicated. But
it was good. And it didn't go to waste.

BCM: Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta
One of the easiest recipes of the year. 
Pretty much congealed cream with fruit 
on the bottom. Seemed a little fatty for my taste.

BCM: "Apricot Raspberry Tart"
Actually, this one was Peach Blueberry Tart, 
with an almond cream layer (one of Dorie's suggestions) 


BWJ: Miniature Florentine Squares
Not at all what I expected. Thought there'd be
spinach involved, LOL! For the record, they were
pretty good little petit fours. Decorated in "Paris"
style by my daughter who had just returned from
5 weeks there, studying art. Color me jealous.

BCM: Cherry Crumb Tart
Finished baking just in time to take it with us to move
art-student daughter into a new apartment at college.
How were we to know that the one thing her new roommate
was allergic to was... wait for it... cherries. What are the odds?


BCM: Jam-filled Sandwich Cookies
Got their own blog post! This is just a reminder.

BCM: Apple Kuchen
It was good. Husband like it. He's picky.


BCM: Tiger Cakes
Mine didn't look quite as good
as the picture in the book, Ha Ha!
Tasted good though. I love little bites.

Another little intermission. We're almost finished. Hang in there. Here are a couple of pictures from the Taylor Swift concert. Because, well, Taylor Swift. We saw her with 56,000 other folks in the Georgia Dome, which is not long for this world. They're building it's replacement now. 


BCM: Chocolate Chestnut Tart
with coffee ice cream and
vanilla-chestnut syrup. Ahhh.

BWJ: Vanilla-Hazelnut Cheesecake
I added a crust of Biscoff crumbs and
baked it in a springform pan 
without the water bath. Came out fine.

and finally!...
BCM: Stained Glass Cookies

Now that the slate is clean, I feel SO much better! Will honestly try to do better about posting in 2016. Hope everyone has a wonderful year. And now, a shoe. There were so many good ones this year that I haven't shared. That's something to look forward to. For now, a holiday version.