When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting November 29, 2008

daring-bakers1This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo, Jenny of Foray into Food, and to help them out with the alternative bakers Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.  This group of talented bakers chose Shuna Fish Lydon’s of Eggbeater Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, as published on Bay Area Bites.  This month we also had the option of making Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich.  I had every intention of making the caramels too, but at the last moment I was unable to find Golden Syrup without ordering it online.  So the Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels will have to wait for another day.  (more…)


Random Purchases November 28, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Main Courses — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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I was in the grocery store the other week and saw two things that I have never tasted or used in a recipe: Persimmons and Oxtails.

Yes, I know weird.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of people posting about persimmons (Tartlette and Food Librarian) and I knew as soon as I saw Tartlette’s post on Persimmons Chai Tarte Tartin that I would be making these.  They turned out great.  I really loved the flavor of these. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I used Wildflower Honey.  My mom purchased it for me when I got the peaches back in August I think.  Wildflower honey has a completely different flavor profile than regular honey.  You can really taste the flowers.  Crazy!!!


For the oxtails, I actually saw them in the grocery store and bought a pack.  Then the next day they went on sale, so I decided to buy another pack.  I ended up making Coda alla Vaccinara (Oxtail Butcher’s Style) from Mario Batali’s book Molto Italiano. These turned out great.  I decided to serve them over some polenta and the meal was fantastic.  It completely reminded me of beef stew, and it shows how every part of the body can be used for food.  You just have to cook it right.

100_1673Oxtail Butcher’s Style – Coda alla Vaccinara

Source: Molto Italiano by Mario Batali

5 lbs oxtails, cut into 1/2 pound chunks ( by the butcher) and rinsed

3 tbsp tomato paste

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped Italian Parsley

1 cup dry white wine

5 ribs celery, leaves reserved, stalks finely chopped

1/4 cup red bell pepper, julienne

1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin

PInch of hot red pepper flakes

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 6 quarts of water to a  boil in a large pot.  Add the oxtails, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain the oxtails, reserving the broth, and set aside.  Measure out 2 cups of the broth and discard the rest.  Dissolve the tomato paste in the reserved broth and set aside

In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over high heat until smoking.  Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown.  Add the oxtails, a few pieces at a time, and brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate.

Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and half the parsley to the pot and saute util the vegetables are browned.  Return the oxtails to the pot, add the wine, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the wine is reduced by half.

Pour the tomato paste-broth mixture over the meat.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Add the chopped celery, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and transfer the oxtails to a platter to cool.  Set the pot aside.

Carefully and thorough remove the meat from the bones; this will take time, but it is worth it.  Stir the meat into the sauce and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix the celery leaves, the remaining parsley, the red pepper, red onion, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon together.  Toss with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the meat in the nice mounds on six warmed plated.  Divide the celery mixture evenly over the meat and serve immediately.


Adventures in Wilton Cake Decorating: Course 1 Class 4 November 27, 2008

Filed under: Course 1,Wilton Cake Decorating — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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For all the things that seemed to go wrong on Monday and Tuesday, I actually finished my cake.  Not in class though.  I was having some issues and I mean ISSUES.

First, the District Manager at Michaels decided to order the store a CRAP ton of Christmas Trees.  With nowhere to put them, they got dumped in the teaching classroom.  So we ended up having class in their break room.

NOT A GOOD IDEA!!! (more…)


Jam and Jelly Exchange November 26, 2008

Filed under: Jams and Jellies — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am

100_1668A couple of months ago I participated in The Second Annual Jam and Jelly Exchange which was held by Molly of Batter Splattered

Once Molly posted asking individuals to join the exchange, I knew that I wanted to do it.  Every year I try to go pick strawberries or blackberries at the local berry farm.  This year I only had the opportunity to pick strawberries, but I did get my parents to get me some Peaches from a local orchard.  I ended up making to jams: Strawberry Jam and  Peach-Blackberry Jam.  I finished my jams and waited patiently to receive an email  telling me who would be the lucky recipient of my Jam.  At the end of September I got the email and was excited.  Two days later I packed up my jams and sent them to Kirstin of Kreative Kirstin.

I never got my jam in the mail, so Molly and I assumed it got lost or something.  She offered to send me some, which was awesome of her.  Jump to this passed Friday.  I got JAM from Molly, salmonberry-ginger jam.  I can’t wait to open it up and try it.  Thank you Molly 🙂


Tuesdays with Dorie: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie November 25, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Pie,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 1:47 am
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tuesdayswithdorieThis weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Vibi of La casserole carrée.  She chose Dorie’s Thanksgiving Twofer Pie which is located on page 321 of Baking: From My Home to Yours. I was actually really excited to make this recipe because I love pumpkin and pecan pie and putting them together is a fantastic idea. (more…)


Kugelhopf Bread Pudding November 21, 2008

Filed under: Baking — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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That’s right.

My Kugelhopf sat on the counter for almost a week and I kept meaning to make French toast with it.

Jump to 2:40am Wednesday.

I haven’t had bread pudding in awhile and I miss it.  I had all the ingredients and figured to go for it.  Little did i know that it had to bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes and that I would fall asleep on the couch and wake up to the oven beeping at me at 4 in the morning.

I decided to make the Bourbon Sauce in the morning once I had gotten more sleep.

For the Bourbon Sauce I had to do things a little bit different than the recipe since 1) I didn’t have the Bourbon that I liked to use so Jack Daniels was substituted, 2) I think there is way too much in the recipe so I reduced the amount to 1/4 cup, 3) I add the bourbon before the egg gets added so that some of the alcohol can burn off and your guests don’t get too loopy from the sauce, and 4) I didn’t add the raisins since I already had raisins that were soaked in Cointreau in the Kugelhopf 🙂

The Bread Pudding turned out FANTASTIC.

100_1663Louisiana Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Source: Debra F. Weber, Your Guide to French Cuisine

7 oz very stale French Bread, cut into cubes I used Kugelhopf

4 cups whole milk

3 egss

1 1/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup Cointreau

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes I only used 4 tbsp

For the Bourbon Sauce

8 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup bourbon  I used 1/4 cup

Place the bread in a large bowl and pour the milk over it.  Allow to soak for 1 hour.  Put the raisins in a smaller bowl and pour the cointreau over them.  Allow to soak for at least one hour

Butter an 8″ x 11″ baking pan.  Preheat the oven to 300°F

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Drain the raisins and add them to the soaked bread.  Pour the egg/sugar mixture into the bread and mix well.  Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon, nutmeg, and the dark brown sugar.  Dot with the butter cubes.  Place in the preheated oven and back about 1.5 hours until set.  Allow to cool at least for 30 minutes before cutting

For the Sauce

Melt the butter over low heat.  When it is hot, but not colored, add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk constantly until thick.  When it is very thick and hot, remove from the heat and whisk in the beaten egg until emulsified, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the bourbon and serve warm.


Adventures in Wilton Cake Decorating: Course 1 Class 3 November 20, 2008

100_1644After leaving my second Wilton class I knew that I was going to do the drop flower cake because I really didn’t want to take a clown cake home.  Granted, the ones that were done in class were very cute, but the clown head just really creeped me out.  I have been practicing my piping skills all week so that I would be able to make a drop flower, which isn’t necessarily hard it is just the hand positions that are a pain in the butt.  I finally got it down along with the shell border, which I still need some practice on.  I decided to make all of my drop flowers ahead of time.  There was just one problem…. (more…)