Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TWD: Summer Fruit Gallette

Ok, so I tried the Summer Galette. I made mine with plums, which were very good. I had to make it in phases because I had a baby shower last night. So before the shower, I made the pie crust and blanched and peeled the plums, and finished it when I came home. I put too much water in the crust; it was really sticky. Needless to say, it didn't roll out and fold over well. And I wasn't sure from the directions if I was supposed to cut the plums in pieces or leave them whole. By the time I finished and got it into the oven it was almost 10 so I didn't make the custard. We ate it with cinnamon ice cream, which was really yummy. The pie crust is the best I've ever tasted. I'm for SURE making something else with it!!

Summer Fruit Galette
Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough for a single crust
2-3 tablespoons jam or marmalade
about 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
Fresh summer fruit: about 10 apricots, 8-10 nectarines, 8 ripe but firm peaches, 8-10 firm plums or 2 stalks rhubarb
Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar, for dusting

For the Custard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Center rack in the oven and preheat to oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (see below) or a silicone mat. To make it easier to move the pie dough onto the baking sheet, roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper (in which case, you can use one of the rolling sheets to line the baking sheet) or wax paper or plastic wrap. Alternatively work on a well-floured surface, taking care to keep the dough moving by turning it and flouring the surface often. Roll the dough into a large 1/8 inch thick circle. Using a pastry wheel or a paring knife, time the dough to a 13 inch diameter. Using a cake pan or a pot lid as a template and the tip of a blunt kitchen knife as a marker, lightly trace a 9 inch circle in the center of the dough- this is the area for the filling. With the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread some of the jam over the circle- how much will depend of the jam flavor you want. Sprinkle over the crumbs, adding a little more than 2 tablespoons if you think you’ve got particularly juicy fruit. Put a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper over the dough and refrigerate it while you prepare the fruit.
Wipe the apricots, nectarines or plums clean with a damp towel and cut in half; discard the pits. Blanch peaches for 10 seconds in a pot of boiling water, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool, then slip off the skins. Halve and pit the peaches or peel rhubarb to remove the strings, and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
Arrange the fruit on the dough, cut side down if using stone fruits, then gently lift the unfilled border of dough up and onto the filling. As you lift the dough and place it on the filling, it will pleat. If you’re not in a rush, freeze the galette for 15 minutes to give the crust a rest.
Brush the dough very lightly with a little water, then sprinkle it with a teaspoon or two of sugar. Bake galette for 25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the fruit is soft.
Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl; set aside until needed. Remove the baking sheet from the oven (leave the oven on), and carefully pour the custard around the fruit. Depending one how much juice has accumulated and how much space you have between the fruit, you may not be able to pour all the custard into the galette, but even 2 tablespoons can give the right effect. Pour in as much custard as you can, then carefully return the pan to the oven. Bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the custard is set- it shouldn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pan. Cool the galette on the baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes.Very carefully slide a small baking sheet or cake lifter under the galette and slip the galette onto a rack to cool. The galette can be served when it is just warm or- my preference- when it has reached room temperature. Dust with confectioners; sugar just before serving.
Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
For a 9 inch Single Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tbsp size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing- what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tbsps of the water- add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling (if your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

German Chocolate (Sushi) Cake

My husband wanted German chocolate cake for his birthday. I saw a recipe for "Inside-Out" German chocolate cake on Gourmet and thought I'd try that. It's pretty yummy- the filling is caramelized (dulce de leche-type) sweetened condensed milk with coconut (and nuts, but ours didn't have nuts) between three thin layers of chocolate cake. Then it's covered in a fudgy almost ganache-like glaze. I then decorated it with sushi and chopsticks made from fondant.

Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake
Makes 12 servings.

For cake layers
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup boiling-hot water

For filling
7 oz sweetened flaked coconut
4 oz coarsely chopped pecans (1 cup)
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

For glaze
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
10 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Special equipment: 3 (9-inch) round cake pans

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 350°F and oil cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together whole milk, butter, whole egg, yolk, vanilla, and almond extract in another large bowl until just combined. Beat egg mixture into flour mixture with an electric mixer on low speed, then beat on high speed 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and beat in water until just combined (batter will be thin). Divide batter among cake pans (about 1 1/2 cups per pan) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans and rotating them 180 degrees halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes total.
Cool layers in pans on racks 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove parchment or wax paper and cool layers completely.

Make filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Spread coconut in a large shallow baking pan and pecans in another.
Bake pecans in upper third of oven and coconut in lower third, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove pans from oven.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F.

Pour condensed milk into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil.

Bake milk in a water bath in middle of oven 45 minutes. Refill baking pan with water to reach halfway up pie plate and bake milk until thick and brown, about 45 minutes more. Remove pie plate from water bath.
Stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla and keep warm, covered with foil.

Make glaze while milk is baking:
Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan.

Remove pan from heat and add chocolate and corn syrup, whisking until chocolate is melted. Transfer 1 cup glaze to a bowl, reserving remaining glaze at room temperature in pan. Chill glaze in bowl, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable, about 1 hour.
Assemble cake:
Put 1 cake layer on a rack set over a baking pan (to catch excess glaze).

Drop half of coconut filling by spoonfuls evenly over layer and gently spread with a wet spatula. Top with another cake layer and spread with remaining filling in same manner. Top with remaining cake layer and spread chilled glaze evenly over top and side of cake. Heat reserved glaze in pan over low heat, stirring, until glossy and pourable, about 1 minute. Pour glaze evenly over top of cake, making sure it coats sides. Shake rack gently to smooth glaze.
Chill cake until firm, about 1 hour.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I got it so I start next week!

Blueberry Muffins

I bought blueberries for my daughters a couple weeks ago and they LOVED them. I'm talking, scarfing them down by the handful; the container I bought, hoping it would last a couple days, lasted exactly 10 minutes. So I bought some more again last week (TWO containers this time), happy that I'd found something healthy they liked. But when my husband gave the berries to them for breakfast a few days ago, nothing! The baby spit them out and Beansy said, "What's this? I don't like these!" So I decided to disguise them in blueberry muffins. I had this BH&G recipe on hand so I decided to try it. The fresh blueberries were really great, but I'm not so sure about the recipe. The texture was moist and and had a firm crumb, but I like my muffins sweeter; these were a little bland. I think increasing the sugar to 1 cup, or adding a crumb topping would make these a lot better:

Blueberry Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons
baking powder
1/2 teaspoon
2 beaten
3/4 cup
milk (don't use skim)
1/2 cup melted
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin pan cups. Set aside.
Stir together flour, the 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of dry mixture; set aside.
Combine eggs, milk, and butter; add all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in blueberries.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. If desired,
sprinkle tops with coarse sugar. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in muffin cups on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups. Makes 12.
My helper:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm sure you all have your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but someone asked me for mine so here it is:

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 1/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c cake flour (I omit this and use 4 1/8 c all purpose flour)
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl between additions. Add vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture and mix slowly just until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips with a large spoon (I suppose you could add nuts at this stage as well, but you won't find that in my cookies!). Drop by the spponful on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes (we like our cookies chewy and soft; bake longer if you like them crispy). Cool on pans for 2 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sugar Cookies

This recipe is from a cookbook I got as a present at my bridal shower. I hadn't really made anything out of it until my sisters-in-law, who have it as well, made this recipe. It's my favorite sugar cookie recipe. I've tweaked it a little:
Sugar Cookies
1 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
5 T sour cream
1/2 t almond extract
1 t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda
1/8 t salt
3 3/4 c flour

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs, sour cream, and extracts; mix well. Add baking soda, salt and flour; mix on low until just combined. Roll dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-3 hours (I sometimes freeze it for 30-45 min if I'm in a hurry).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll dough out on WELL floured surface; cut into shapes. Bake on ungreased cookies sheets for 7-8 minutes. Cool on pans for 2 minutes, transfer to racks to cool completely.

1/2 c butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t almond extract
pinch of salt

1/8-1/4 c milk

Beat butter slowly with powdered sugar. Add extracts and salt. Add milk, a little at a time, and continue to beat until frosting reaches desired consistency. Color if desired. Use immediately or cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cinderella Cake

I made a birthday cake for our friend's daughter as a thank you for letting us use his truck to bring home our new BBQ. The birthday girl's big brother said she likes princesses so I made a Cinderella cake (or as Beansy says, "Cinderbredda)". I made the carriage and Cinderella (inspired by AIMummy) out of RKT and covered them in MMF. Instead of covering the cake with MMF, I opted for buttercream- the more time efficient and kid-friendly route. Cinderella ended up being a little bulky in the upper body and was apparently wearing headphones (thanks, Beans!). It was a three-layer white cake with strawberry jam filling and vanilla buttercream:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mickey Mouse Cake

I made a Mickey Mouse cake for my mom's birthday last month. This is the first time I made a cake in hot(ter) weather. Note to self: make the buttercream stiffer! I'm getting better with covering the cake in fondant. This time, I made the decorations and immediately put them on the cake instead of letting them dry out before applying them. The stars and dots looked much better this way. All decorations are MMF; the cake is chocolate with almond buttercream:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yo Gabba Gabba! Cake

I made a Yo Gabba Gabba cake for a friend's birthday in April. He introduced the show to our daughter and it's one of her favorites. I told her (too far) in advance that we would make one for his birthday and four months later (with her still talking about it), we finally did it! The cake is covered in MMF, and I made the characters out of candy clay (the boom box is MMF). This is my first time working with candy clay. I thought I would try it and see if it turned out better than MMF. It's definitely easier to color and shape, but it was kind of greasy when you handle it too much, so I had to keep letting it rest for a few minutes before continuing. I ran out of time and didn't get to finish the scenes. My daughter was pretty excited about it, but then she kept asking me, "Where's Plex?" I told her there wasn't enough room on the cake for him. :o)
The cake is chocolate with cookies and cream buttercream:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beansy's 2nd Birthday

So my daughter LOVED Elmo for the longest time so it was only fitting that she have an Elmo birthday cake. I made Elmo's head and body out of Rice Krispy treats and covered him in MMF. The cake and decorations are also MMF. Elmo proved to be too heavy for the cake, which is why the cake is leaning forward. Note to self: must use better supports next time! The cake is chocolate (Beans' fave) with plain buttercream.

Then it was off to Disneyland!!

William's 1st Birthday

My sister-in-law and her family came for a visit last summer when William turned one. I made him the Monkey Cake, which, by the way, is the easiest, cutest cake. And pretty yummy, too!

(hmm, the birthday boy isn't actually in this photo, just two girls who were more excited about the monkey cake than William!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Beansy's 1st Birthday

This is my daughter's first birthday cake. It was an attempted topsy-turvy cake (too ambitious for a second-timer, I'll say). It was a winter theme as her birthday's right before Christmas- Santa, reindeer, sledding penguins, etc.
The logistics of everything was pretty complicated. We were driving to Utah to celebrate Christmas with our families so I needed to make the cakes and all the fondant (as well as the figures so they dried in time) and transport all in the car in tact. Needless to say, some of the fondant was dried out and cracked and not all the figurines made it unscathed (she was only 1 so she didn't notice).

First Post

I decided to start a cake blog. I've been baking for as long as I can remember and started making fun cakes as a hobby a couple years ago. This is my first fondant covered 3-D decorated cake. I made it for Halloween a couple years ago to practice for my daughter's first birthday cake.
Here's my brother's birthday cake that same year. No characters for him. Just the best chocolate cake in the world. This is my favorite (and all my family's!) recipe. Beware: it's super rich (but worth every calorie!)
(he'd be embarassed to know I posted a pic of him in that classy cut-off sleeve shirt)

Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Ganache Glaze

3 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
2 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups water
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder

1 ½ pounds sweet butter, soft
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 pinch salt


1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 3 (10-inch) cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Alternately, oil the pans and then flour them. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the brown sugar and oil. Turn on the mixer to a low speed and mix in the eggs. Let the sugar, oil, and eggs mix while sifting together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Set this mixture aside. In another small bowl, mix the vanilla into the milk and set this aside as well. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the cocoa and whisk it until it is smooth. To the egg mixture, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture beginning and ending with flour. With the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. With the mixture at a low speed add the cocoa. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pour this mixture into the prepared cake pans. Bake the cake for approximately 15 minutes or until tester comes out clean. When cake layers have cooled, remove from pans and refrigerate until cold.
To make the frosting: In an electric mixing bowl place the soft butter and beat it on a low speed while adding powdered sugar. When all the sugar is mixed in, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the vanilla and salt and let the mixer beat for 5 to 7 minutes on a medium speed. Fill and frost the cake and refrigerate it for 10 to 20 minutes to set up the frosting. To make the ganache: In a heatproof bowl, place the chocolate chips and the corn syrup. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk it until smooth then set it aside. Pour ganache over the top of the cake and, with a cake spatula, smooth the top of the cake and allow ganache to spill over the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer. Serve the cake cold or allow it to come to room temperature before serving.