Thursday, August 25, 2005

Par-Tee Time

I present to you my latest creation!! I worked long & hard to come up with what I felt was just the PERFECT idea for this cake. First let me set the scenario for you...

My neighbor knows about my interest & efforts to start my own homebased bakery as she is often my guinea pig when I make breakfast muffins. Well, she was hosting a golf tournament over the weekend & asked if I would do a cake because one of the players was celebrating his 60th birthday - as you can see. So of course I jumped at the chance, as it's a great opportunity to get my name out to other people & a chance to pad my portofolio just a little bit Of course it doesn't hurt that it gave me a pretty good bit of decorating practice right?

After much work & standing over the cake for probably a good hour just staring, trying to decide if it was actually done or not..I was beaming from ear to ear with pride. As I always am when trying out a new recipe, which carelessly this was I was a bit nervous that maybe it didn't turn out right or that it just wouldn't suit the taste of my customer. Unfortunately this time I had reason to be nervous - come to find out the cake was very DRY!! I was crushed..absolutely crushed. I definitely should have tried the recipe before hand..but I made a cupcake out of the batter & sampled it. The flavor was pretty good, but yes it was a bit dry..but I figured once I iced the cake it would be fine. I finished the cake up about 24 hours before the party, so I figured it would be fine..shouldn't dry out too much before then right?? Well I guess with this cake that wasn't the case..Either that or maybe the cake dried out more than the cupcake.

Regardless I'm terribly disappointed & will NEVER use the Barefoot Contessa recipe she featured on her show for the "birthday cake with pink frosting". The recipe was called exactly that..well something close. The cake was really cute when she made it on the show & normally I really like her recipes so I felt pretty confident the cake would be atleast satisfactory, but in this case I was wrong. Maybe she just doesn't do good birthday cakes? lol Anyway I'm pretty bummed about that. I don't expect all my recipes to be just have to test & toss But the fact that I made something for someone else..especially because they were using it for a party & they were going to pay me for it..that makes it bother me even more. Bleh..maybe I'll be able to write a much more redeeming blog SOON!! lol

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

No substitute for the real thing??

I pose this question as it relates to granulated sugar versus Splenda. I was approoached to do a birthday cake for someone using splenda. I'm always up for trying new things, especially when it may potentially result in a delicious new discovery. I'm even more excited when it may broaden my customer base. With so many people counting carbs, watching their weight or more importantly adhering to a special diet because of a medical condition, a baker/chef stands a good chance of having atleast the occassional customer inquire about goods made with reduced sugar or sugar substitutes right?

Well anyway, on with my story. I've heard so many times, "Oh Splenda tastes just like sugar - in fact it is sugar!!" Me being the eternal skeptic found that sooo hard to believe, so I tried it..and to those people I say "get outta here!!" It's much much better than those artifical sweeteners, and much healthier I would imagine. But I tried some in my coffee some months back, and according to the package 1 tablespoon Splenda = 1 tablespoon sugar, so then my normal 2 teaspoons of sugar, should equate to 2 teaspoons of splenda for my coffee correct? Well it didn't!! And I noticed some peculiar little fizzy bubbles rising to the top when I spooned that stuff into my mug of coffee. Umm is that normal?? Well, I didn't die after drinking it so I guess I'm safe. Yeah, yeah I'm rambling right?? Sorry..geez

So anyway, I agreed to do the cake of course, but made a point to reiterate that this was a total experiment for me!! I made sure to let them know that if I could not find a recipe on the Splenda website I was going to have to adapt one of my own and "hope it turns out". I immediately got online & diligently scoured the Splenda site, found a recipe for yellow cake & made sure to read all the helpful hints & tips.

I baked the cake Friday afternoon, after 2 trips to the grocery store - 1 to buy buttermilk & Splenda for the cake. The second trip to exchange the Splenda for Splenda Baking Sugar Blend. Yes boys & girls, there are multiple types of Splenda. That little yellow box requires various alterations to your recipes and can not be used in baking something that needs to rise, such as a cake. So I exchanged the itty bitty $4 box of Splenda for the 2lb $7 bag of Splenda Baking Blend. Both quite pricey if u ask me. Anyway, the cake was a sucess from what I've heard thus far. The batter was quite a bit thicker than my "regular" cake batters normally are, and cakes don't rise quite as much with the sugar substitute, so I knew to expect that & didn't freak out at the flatness of my cake thank And I finished the cake off nicely but a buttercreme frosting. Unfortunately, on such short notice I wasn't able to come up with a GOOD recipe for frosting using any type of Splenda..that will be on my to do

I can't seem to the get photos posted at the moment..I dunno what the problem is. Any suggestions?? I didn't think my html knowledge or my copy & paste skills were that

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cranberries in summer...

I would try a new recipe everyday if I could. Unfortunately that would be very time-consuming, most of all just terribly wasteful. And to be honest, I'm afraid I would become horribly overweight. We keep enough baked goodies in the house now, that if there were new things each day I would just become one chunkie little ball of - well, fat. And we can't have that now can we? So until my home-based bakery is off the ground & I'm testing out new recipes daily for a profit, I must pick and choose my test recipes carefully. That leads me to the whole "Cranberries in summer.." title.

The brownie recipe I tried out on Tuesday was decent, but a tad disappointing, so I think sub-consciously I felt the need to redeem myself. Well redeem myself I did!! Yesterday was a deliciously fabulous day. I am absolutely in love with orange cranberry muffins. Ever since working at Starbucks some years back as a Barista, where I would nosh on the orange cranberry muffins as I sipped my morning coffee and delighted in the caffeine addicts who I saw religiously I have been in love. Our romance was never quite an out in the open type thing, until now. Yes now that I have baked a batch myself & feel that I have found the recipe that was intended just for me, I will scream it from the highest mountain. Okay, maybe it's not quite that serious, afterall they contain no chocolate. But they are pretty delicious..and I feel good about eating them, they aren't laden with stick upon stick of butter and tons of oil. They have just enough of everything to make them a delicious treat, but not enough to make them a shameful endulgence.

Perhaps I am being a bit dramatic?? What do you expect - need I remind you that I am admittedly Culinarily Obsessed??


Thanks to the Food Network for such delicious inspiration..what would I do without their recipes?

Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing the muffin tin
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the muffins, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove berries from the heat, and set aside to cool and plump. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.

Lightly brush a 12-muffin tin with butter. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, orange zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How on earth???

How on earth do I start this off?? I read food blogs all the time, searching for new recipes & trying to learn something new I can use in the kitchen...I guess you could say my obsession has grown just a little bit greater because here I am, doing just one more thing that revolves around

But I'm still clueless where to begin really, so that I don't sound like I'm just going off on some pointless ramble, like I'm sure I sound now.

And how on earth do I make up my mind just what new recipe I want to try?? I can spend hours upon hours on the net looking over new recipes, printing & organizing them neatly into my "cookbook" that I have created with MY special collection of recipes I've created, perfected or am just SO obsessed with I've word for word memorized the recipe.

Take today for of my dear friends just had a baby Sunday & confessed that she was immediately craving brownies - which is a bit ironic, because like me she's always been a confessed chocaholic, but through her ENTIRE pregnancy she swore she just could not eat chocolate. *gasp* How could anyone not eat chocolate right?? No wonder after childbirth she was immediately craving brownies!! Anyway..I decided to bake her some brownies. No problem right? I'll just whip up a batch. But see that's where it gets complicated..I don't bake alot of brownies..not just plain & simple brownies, so I don't just have a brownie recipe. Espresso brownie recipe?? check! Blondie recipe?? check!! brownie recipe?? uh how does one decide on a brownie recipe?? I finally found 3 recipes that all claimed to be "the best ever", "the kind u find at a bake sale", "rich & fudgey". I must have stared at these 3 recipes for an hour before I finally closed my eyes & picked one hoping for the best.

I cut the recipe in half & followed it pretty much exactly, I did amend a few things..but nothing that should actually jepordize the quality of the recipe. They seem to have come out pretty good, nothing spectaular, so I'm still on the hunt for "The brownie recipe". It's time for a midnight snack, which will be my opportunity to give a true evaluation of the brownies.

If anyone actually reads this & you have a brownie recipe you care to share I'd be soooo excited!!


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