Saturday, 29 January 2011

Recipe 41 - Grapefruit Pudding Cake

I wanted to find a grapefruit recipe to take advantage of some the beautiful specimens that are on display around Houston these days. I discovered a delicious sounding Grapefruit Pudding Cake recipe on My Cooking Hut via Cannelle et Vanille. This seems links another simple, fruity dessert. Right up my alley!

2 egg yolks
185 grams whole milk
½ tsp lemon zest
½ tsp grapefruit zest
60 grams grapefruit juice
100 grams sugar
25 grams flour
pinch salt
2 egg whites

Visit the recipe for complete directions.

Friday, 28 January 2011

His results - Orange Cornmeal Cake

If I was doing this alone I reckon I could have whipped it up in 15 minutes active time max. It was incredibly easy!

I used mainly normal sugar with a hint of rainbow sanding sugar. It looked pretty nice once it was cut up I thought!

It was pretty nice tasting too! I thought it was better on the day we baked it so I'd suggest eating it pretty sharpish.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Her results - Orange Cornmeal Cake

Before starting this baking and blogging project, I had a preconceived notion that cakes are frosted or glazed. I feel naive admitting it, but that's generally the way it goes in my native Kentucky and in most restaurants I've visited. First you choose a variety of cake: white, yellow, chocolate, red velvet, strawberry, carrot, etc. Then you choose your icing: buttercream, cream cheese, ganache, glaze, fondant, perhaps something fruity, etc. Voila, cake!

Thankfully, this project has given me insight into how varied cake can be, particularly cake toppings. The third recipe we made was caramel cake: a nice, moist yellow sponge with a layer of liquid caramel poured over the top. Later, for our sixteenth recipe, we made one of my favorite cakes ever - fresh ginger cake. If you would have told me that an unfrosted dessert cake loaded with ginger and molasses would someday become one of my favorite foods, I would have foolishly laughed.

This week's recipe (our fortieth!) was a cornmeal and olive oil cake with a layer of sanding sugar baked into its surface. For a third time, I've had to expand my definition of cake and cake toppings. At first I thought the cake sounded odd if delicious. After baking the cake, I've decided that the recipe strikes a nice balance between sophistication and simplicity.

This cake is good. It would taste nice even without the sugar topping, but that thin layer really pushes the cake to the next level. I used 1/4 cup of Opal Sanding Sugar from Confectionery House. He bought it for me as a present last year, and I finished it off on this cake. It's a beautiful, subtle mixture of various pastel sanding sugars and traditional white sanding sugar. I highly suggest it, and I'm tempted to go ahead and order more.

The crumb of this cake is nice, too. The effect of the cornmeal is more discernible in the texture than in the flavor of the cake, and the same can be said for the olive oil. I'm thankful that I watched the video posted on the website featuring the recipe. Had I not seen it, I would have probably used a too-flavorful extra virgin olive oil instead of a mild "olive oil." To me, the most notable flavors came from the wine (I used Pine Ridge 2009 Chenin Blanc ~ Viognier) and the zest of a blood orange plus a touch of zest from a navel orange. The resultant flavor of these ingredients is a cake that I'd describe as light, sweet and citrusy. Give this one a try!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Recipe 40 - Orange Cornmeal Cake

This is another recipe I've had bookmarked for an age. Sounds delicious to me!

You can find the recipe here on Martha Stewart's site.

The ingredient list goes like this:

  • 120ml olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200g sugar, plus 65g for topping
  • 120ml dry white wine, (or orange juice)
  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 80g yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Orange segments, for serving (optional)

Thursday, 20 January 2011

His results - Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Toffee

Publish Post

This stuff is, I would say, dangerously easy to make. It's also fairly amazing that you can fit such a shockingly large amount of sugar and fat in such a small finished product.

I made double the recipe and was glad I did. I took a large amount of it to work and used a bit to repay a couple of favours I owed.

For those of you familiar with it the taste was a lot like Thornton's special toffee. In texture it was a bit more brittle and a little less chewy although it stuck in the teeth nicely. If I made it again I'd take it off the heat a degree or two lower.

It was lovely stuff.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Her results - Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Toffee

The Chocolate Covered Pretzel Toffee was a hit. There was a nice buttery taste to the toffee and the flavor of the pretzels shone through at just the right intensity. The pretzels served a second purpose, too. The toffee came out a little harder than I prefer it, but the pretzel bits helped keep the candy soft enough to nibble. I found that putting the pretzels into a big freezer bag and then going at it with a rolling pin was an effective way to get the bits to a good size in no time.

I used Golden Syrup instead of corn syrup. Americans, if you have not tried this stuff, now is the time! Yum.

It took almost twice as long as the recipe predicted for my mixture to reach 300, but everything really came together very quickly. This is definitely amongst the quickest things we've made.

As for the chocolate layer, I made a choice that I might not suggest repeating: I used a combination of semisweet and milk chocolate chips since I had a little of each that I wanted to use up. It's good this way, but I'd suggest foregoing milk chocolate. It would be better if the chocolate could hold its own against the bold flavor of the toffee. Also, I forgot to buy sea salt flakes, so I had to sprinkle fine crystal sea salt atop. I only used 1/2 teaspoon, because that was enough to cover the chocolate I didn't want to overdo it. This is an okay alternative, but a good flake salt would provide more surprising bursts of saltiness, which is my personal preference.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Recipe 39 - Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Toffee

Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Toffee is the clear way forward. Click the recipe title to visit the full recipe on Serious Eats. Here are the items we'll need to acquire before Sunday:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 110g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 (250g) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (115g) crushed thin pretzel twists
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt

Her results - Adult Brownies

I could eat good brownies all day long. Slowly, perhaps, because they're so decadent, but all day long none the less! If I were going to do that, this would probably be the recipe I'd choose. I like my brownies chewy, hearty and bursting with flavor. This recipe hit the trifecta. Despite the hand mixing and counter-banging, mine still came out of the oven much fluffier than the authentic Andronico's treats, which I remember as uniquely compact. Nonetheless, the flavor of my brownies was reminiscent of the real deal.

I wish I had another full tray of these guys.

My demon-oven did not overbake these. In fact, I gave them an extra seven minutes, and they were still a bit underdone. It wasn't really a problem, but I'd suggest using one of the brownie pans that is all edges for this recipe. I'm not surprised that's what was shown on Serious Eats. BTW, I don't think I'll ever make brownies again without taking the time to line the pan. It was a lot easier than trying to pry out squares with a spatula.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

His results - Adult Brownies

It was a nice feeling to get back into the routine and bake with Her again. It was a great recipe to do it with too. It was simple as anything to throw these together but they turned out wonderfully.

There are a few little touches in this recipe which make it stand out from the 101 others you may have tried and they're things I'll probably always do when making brownies from now on. The rapping of the pan, small amount of coffee and fleur de sel...

I left them in the oven a little longer than the recipe called for but they were still a little under done. They were just the way I like them though so I took them out. I thought they were thoroughly delicious. It got rave reviews at work too!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Recipe 38 - Adult Brownies

A fair while ago She took a trip to California. While she was there she undertook a very special task for me. A few days later I received a parcel which contained, among other things an Adult Brownie from Andronico's in San Francisco. I had heard mumblings about this legendary treat on the internet and required a sample to satisy my curiosity and cravings for deliciousness.

I was not disappointed. It was insanely tasty. When she reached the front of the line she told the server she was there to retrieve a brownie to post over the Atlantic. He told her the secret to the legendary tastiness in the small packet he handed over was "more butter than you could possibly believe would go in there". We can only hope that this recipe from Serious Eats can stand up to the memory I have.

You can click through for the recipe, I'll just put the ingredients below

  • 170 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 220g Valrhona Lacté (41% cocoa) / milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 220g Valrhona Grand Cru Noir Manjari (64% cocoa) / dark milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 60g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • 110g dark chocolate, cut into large chunks (optional)
  • Softened butter, cocoa powder for dusting pan

His results - Challah Bread

It's been such a long time since I made this that I can barely remember it. Since then She has come for christmas (and got to try a slightly stale piece of challah I saved for her) and we've had a great time together. We spent a little time in a real kitchen together and I got some wonderful baking / cooking related christmas presents. I'd expect some of them to show up here very soon!

Back to the baking I'm happy to report this was very yummy. It was rich and slightly sweet. It was good enough for me to eat a fair chunk of it as it just as it was too.

It was pretty on top of everything!

This year I plan on doing a better job of writing up these posts. I got a bit swamped towards the back end of 2010. I'll try and keep me head above water enough to do a decent job with my posts.
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