When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

Tuesdays With Dorie: Perfect Party Cake June 30, 2009

tuesdays-with-dorie-logoThis weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Carol of mix, mix… stir, stir.  She chose Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake which is located on pages 250-252 in Baking: From My Home to Yours. I made this recipe almost a year ago for my Nanny and PaPa’s Anniversary.  I have also used the base recipe of the cake to make other cakes, like my lemon cake with raspberry buttercream, fresh raspberries, and lemon cream.  I love this cake.  The cake recipe is perfect for anyone that wants a lemon cake.  It has a nice tight tender crumb. (more…)


Today June 28, 2009

Filed under: Life — pastrybrush @ 1:32 pm

I have taken to wandering around town when I don’t want to sit still.

Sitting around my apartment gets depressing after awhile, even though the dogs do keep me pretty entertained with their random bursts of energy which usually results in chasing each other around the apartment 🙂

Today, I decided to venture out and go to my favorite coffee house.

NO, it isn’t Starbucks.  If you know me, you know I don’t give them my money…but I will take free drinks when offered 🙂 We have a history, a bitter one.

I drove 20 minutes into the city.  I guess I should tell you where I went.  I have been writing for almost a year, and haven’t divulged my location.  I guess it is time 🙂

I live in the Richmond, VA, area.  I drove into Carytown, and went to my favorite place, Ellwood’s Coffee.  I love that place.  The location is great.  The place is beautiful, and the coffee is awesome.

0628091010I got my usual drink, an Americano (shots of espresso and hot water), ordered a raspberry muffin, and went to sit outside.  Today is actually a beautiful day.  There was a nice breeze and it was a little overcast for awhile.  I sat in a corner and was positioned just right so that my non-driving arm could actually get some sun, and IT DID.  I am a little red now 🙂

I sat there for 2 hours.  I did some writing and then started to read a new book.

It was nice to get out and do some people watching for awhile, and just enjoy the day.  I actually don’t get to do that too much.  I am thinking about planting some herbs today.  The usual: basil, parsley, chives, and sage.  I know I am planting them late, but at least I will be able to sit outside on my tiny porch and garden in my little planters 🙂


The Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Bakewell Tart…er…pudding June 27, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Tarts,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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100_2196The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

This weeks recipe was simple and I was so relieved.  I really just need a break from anything complicated right now.  I was so happy that we were making Frangipane or as the ladies at work like to call it Franny G.  I have made it before and it just made life so much easier.  I was going to use some of the homemade strawberry jam I have, but when I went into the pantry I had already used it all :/  But I was covered because when I was at the farmers market the other week, I ended up picking up a jar of homemade raspberry preserves from the farm with seeds and everything.  So that ended up being my filling.

I love seeds in my preserves.  It just tastes better in my opinion 🙂

When making the tart, I actually had Franny G and and shortcrust left over so I made two mini tarts.  One I kept to taste the recipe and the other I gave to my friend Dancer.  The big 9″  tart and leftover Perfect Party Cake left my apartment and went to willing hands and mouths at the local comic bookshop.  I find that they are more then willing to eat what I bake and are very happy about it.   I wanted to give it all to roclar, but he is currently doing the South Beach thing and offered the mouths of the other comic bookshop patrons 🙂  I assume they liked everything, but I haven’t heard back yet.

While making the tart I realized that I didn’t have any almonds to sprinkle on the tart. I thought about going to buy some, but money is tight currently and almonds are usually expensive.  I ended up looking in the freezer and I had just enough to make a decorative border on the tart and then I just covered it in confectioners’ sugar.

When in doubt douse it in sugar and no one will know 🙂

I have tasted all parts of the tart separately and loved them all.  I have not yet tried the finished tart because I am currently not hungry and don’t want to over do it today.  I promise I will try the tart tomorrow and post my opinion.  But I am sure I will love it because I love me some Franny G and raspberry jam.

*UPDATE* I finally tried the tart this morning, for breakfast 🙂 I had to get to work so I couldn’t post about it as soon as I tried it.  But I loved it.  The raspberry jam gave the tart a nice sweet, tartness that was perfect; and the frangipane had enough almond flavor so that it wasn’t over powering.  I have had some experience with hard frangipane at some pastry shops, once it was baked and this recipe was perfect.  I was literally standing in the kitchen eating it like a piece of pizza 🙂

100_2194Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search. That said, our dear Natalie at Gluten a Go Go has sourced some recipes and linked to them in the related alt.db thread.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

100_2197Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Annemarie’s notes:
• Add another five minutes or more if you’re grinding your own almonds or if you’re mixing by hand (Heaven help you).


Vegan Adventure #26: Roasted Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas June 24, 2009

Filed under: Main Courses,Vegan — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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I have been a huge slacker in the pasted few months.  I have made dishes, taken pictures, and then never posted about them.  So I am FINALLY get around to doing a few more posts so that I can catch up 🙂  Here is another chapter in my Vegan Adventure, Acorn Squash and Black Bean Empanadas. (more…)


Tuesdays With Dorie: Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise June 23, 2009

tuesdays-with-dorie-logoThis weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Andrea of Andrea In The Kitchen. She chose Dorie’s Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise which is located on pages 293-295 in Baking: From My Home to Yours. Every time I saw the picture for this recipe it was always struck me as interesting.  I have no idea why I dreaded making this   I saw the picture, and I even thought that I might not like it.  The only long thing about making this recipe is that the dacquoise has to bake in the oven for 3 hours and then once every thing is put together it has to chill for 4-6 hours.  But all the skills used in this recipe are basic and not complicated at all. (more…)


Relax and take a breather…everyone needs one:) June 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — pastrybrush @ 2:17 pm



Tuesdays With Dorie: Honey-Peach Ice Cream June 16, 2009

Filed under: Ice Cream,Peaches,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 2:13 pm
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tuesdayswithdorieThis weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Tommi of Brown Interior.   She selected Dorie’s Honey-Peach Ice Cream which is located on page 437 of Baking: From My Home to Yours. I LOVE peach ice cream.  As a kid when my parents or my grandparents would ask me what type of ice cream I wanted, I would always ask for peach.  I also LOVE fresh peaches, but it isn’t currently prime peach season here yet so I had to settle for some not so ripe peaches. (more…)