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Tuesdays With Dorie: A Buche and a Nightcap… December 30, 2014

Came into a bar.

I swear the title sounds like something from a bad joke.

I am a little behind with regard to posting.  I made the Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps (Baking With Julia, page 309) for my husband to take to work, and I actually made them on time.  I ended up making the Gingerbread Buche de Noel (Baking Chez Moi, page 86) for Christmas.

For the nightcaps, I ended up not putting the cap on them because 1) transport would be difficult and 2) piped brown icing ALWAYS looks like poop.

I am sorry.  It really does, and I know I wasn’t the only one thinking it. But I might have been the only one that typed it 🙂

The cookies actually turned out really good.  I think I would have preferred a peppermint oil or extract in the chocolate ganache instead of boiling mint leaves in cream.  It was one of those, what is that interesting flavor and it is throwing me off because I was expecting chocolate and not mint leaf flavor. I ended up rolling the edges in some chocolate sprinkles that I had left over.  I should have rolled them in crushed up candy canes, but then I would have had to smash candy canes.  That would have alerted the villagers that mommy was making cookies and had the chocolate out.


The Gingerbread Buche de Noel surprised me at how many steps there were. I have made rolled cakes before and this is the first time that I have had to pre-roll the cake while warm. I was happy when the cake plopped right out of the pan and onto the powdered sugared towel.  I didn’t expect it to be that easy and it rolled nicely too. With regard to the actual recipe, I was surprised there was no sugar in the filling so I added about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to sweeten it a bit.  For the icing it threw me off 1) that I was making an Italian Meringue and 2) there was cream of tartar in it.  I usually make an Italian Buttercream for the outside of my Buche de Noel’s anyways.  Well I followed the directions, and I didn’t like the icing.  I LOVE meringues so I am thinking it was the addition of the cream of tartar that just made it taste off. So when I eat the gingerbread cake, I just scrap the icing off the outside and I am good 🙂

IMG_5165 IMG_5166


Tuesdays With Dorie: Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Baby Cakes May 7, 2013

Filed under: Baking With Julia,Cake,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 6:00 am
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This weeks Tuesdays With Dorie is being hosted by



Once I found out I was hosting I knew that I had to hurry up and bake the cakes because I currently as of Friday, May 3, 2013, I looked like this.


So, in this picture I am 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant, but as of the posting I will be 37 weeks and 6 days. Unless I happen to have this little girl by then, which is very possible since I had Emma at 37 weeks and 5 days. Now you see why I was in a hurry to get on top of this because I have been waiting to host and this baby could come at any moment 🙂

UPDATE The doctor actually said they modified my due date and It was never mentioned to me, so in the picture I am actually 38 weeks and 6 days and as of the posting 39 weeks and 3 days. Still waiting on this little girl. UPDATE

I have been planning on making the recipe a few weeks early, but I was actually unable to find rhubarb until a few days ago. I was thinking about using apples because that is what we had in the house, and then Mike showed up with 3 HUGE stalks of rhubarb and all was not lost. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to make 8 baby cakes because I only had 4 small cake pans, which just happened to be 4-inch pans and they were springform (cheesecake pans). I decided I would make 4 baby cakes and use the rest of the batter and make one 8-inch round cake.

Large Rhubarb Cake Fresh Rhubarb Upside-down Baby Cakes

Source: Baking With Julia, pages 244-246

Makes 8 small cakes

Here’s a tender, soft-crumbed butter cake, a classic of the genre, made as individual upside-down cakes. The baby cake pans, each four inches across (see Sources, page 467), are lined with a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, and pecans and decorated with slices of rhubarb before the bourbon-boosted butter cake batter is poured in. It is a sassy take on the old pineapple upside-down cake (a cake worthy of revival if made without the once-obligatory maraschino cherry). In fact, there’s nothing sacred about rhubarb; you can vary the fruit as you choose. Try using mangoes, apples or pears, apricots, plums, or bananas, and vary the liqueur or flavoring to match the fruit. (For ideas about making this cake with rose geranium leaves or herbs, turn to page 247.)

If the urge to bake these lovely cakes strikes and you haven’t a set of baby cake pans at hand, make these in muffin tins or custard cups, or make the recipe as one large cake. The batter is perfect for an eleven- or twelve-inch cast-iron skillet or a twelve-inch round cake pan, and turned out, the large cake is impressive.

These baby cakes, as well as the Gingerbread Baby Cakes (page 247), Hazelnut Baby Loaves (page 249), Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes (page 255), Vanilla Pound Cake (page 251), Lemon Loaf Cake (page 252), and the grand and glorious Wedding Cake (page 232), are members of the same large and universally appealing family, the butter cake clan.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher or fine sea salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup crème fraîche, homemade (page 447) or store-bought, or sour cream

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (lightly packed) dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon bourbon

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

6 or 7 stalks (12 ounces) fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

Baby Rhubarb CakesMelted butter, for greasing the pans

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the insides of 8 mini- or baby cake pans, each 4 inches across and 1 inch deep, with a light coating of melted butter, dust with flour, and tap out the excess. Whisk or stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together just to blend; reserve. In a separate bowl, stir the vanilla into the crème fraîche and set aside until needed.

Melt the 1/2 stick of butter in a heavy skillet. Add the brown sugar and bourbon and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar melts. Stir in the pecans to coat with caramel and turn off the heat. Divide the caramel evenly among the pans, working quickly to get it to the edges of the pans before it sets (cooked sugar cools rapidly). Arrange the rhubarb in circles over the sugar, and set aside while you make the batter.

Put the remaining stick of butter and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a hand-held mixer, and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. The butter and sugar must be beaten until they are light, fluffy, and pale, so don’t rush it – the process can take 3 to 4 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer and 6 to 8 minutes with a hand-held mixer. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Working with a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the dry ingredients and the crème fraîche alternately – 3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of crème fraîche. You’ll end up with a thick batter.

Baking the Cakes Spoon the batter over the rhubarb and smooth the tops by rotating the pans while you run a rubber spatula over the batter. Put the pans on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Test a couple of the cakes to be certain.) As soon as the cakes are removed from the over, turn them out of their pans onto a rack.

Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Storing The cakes can be kept wrapped in plastic at room temperature overnight.

Large Upside-down Cake

Make the caramel in a heavy 11- or 12-inch skillet that can go into the oven- cast-iron is ideal for this. Arrange the rhubarb over the caramel, spoon in the batter, and bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes. If you do not have a skillet, butter and flour a 12-inch cake pan, pour in the caramel, top with the rhubarb and batter, and bake. If, when you turn out the cake, some of the caramel and fruit sticks to the bottom of the pan, scrape it onto the top of the cake, smoothing the top with a blunt knife.

Rose Geranium Upside-down Cake

By varying the batter slightly, you can produce upside-down cakes with a very different look and taste. For making the rose geranium cake, a sage cake (which appears in the photograph on page 219), or any other kind of herb cake, choose plants that have not been sprayed. Butter and flour the cake pans, but do not make the caramel. To prepare the batter, substitute 2 teaspoons of rose water for the vanilla. Arrange a few geranium leaves on the bottom of each pan, spoon in the batter, and bake. The rose geranium or any other baby cakes can be made as a large cake; just use a 12-inch round cake pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.


Tuesdays With Dorie: Pecan Sticky Buns May 22, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Baking With Julia,Breakfast,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 12:45 am
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I am not really a slacker.


I actually made this on time last week and enjoyed it for dessert last Tuesday. But then, of course, life interferes with everything. The weekend before we were in D.C. visiting my brothers-in-law and their significant others. We brought the munchkin with us because they really haven’t seen her since probably Christmas and she has changed A LOT since then.

My crazy little girl is cruising around the house, crawling on all fours, military crawling, climbing up the stairs, and getting into everything. Especially the dog’s water bowl, she loves to splash in that. She still laughs at me when I tell her no and she likes to laugh when I hurt myself. I guess I am pretty hilarious. She has finally cut two teeth, but I have been told by my mom that I didn’t get my teeth until I was almost one so it looks like my M&M takes after me since she is now 11 1/2 months.

Emma provided plenty of entertainment for her Uncles and Aunts and actually behaved very well. When we got back from D.C. I jumped into gardening mode because it was going to rain soon and I needed to get the rest of the vegetables in the garden. For that I was rewarded with a tick bite, which confuses me because the only way that thing could have gotten on me is from the trees. So I blame the squirrels in a yard but then our house does back up to a forest aka very wooded area.

Of course, I freaked out when I found it and could barely reach it to get it off me. Mike couldn’t hear me screaming because he was dealing with the baby. So I made him make sure I got all the tick out and the proceeded to play the time honored game of Is That a Freckle or a Tick.

Jump to a week later, we are in Philly for a wedding and it is our first weekend away without Emma. I am getting dressed and notice that the area around my tick bite is red.


I ask Mike to look at it and then I call my mom in Germany (work trip) and then my dad in Texas. Both tell me the same thing, “Go to the Doctor on Monday.” I make my appointment, the doctor takes one look at my back and say to me, “You have Lyme Disease.”

Well that is just freaking great.

I ask about the duration of the illness and he tells me that we caught it at the first stage so with antibiotics it will go away.


So with that said and done here is a lovely picture of my Pecan Sticky Buns.

They turned out a little darker than I anticipated but then I remembered that I used dark brown sugar 🙂 Mike said they tasted like his Mom’s Monkey Bread, which it really did. All of the steps for the recipe didn’t bother me because the end product was fantastic. Who wouldn’t love a sticky bun made out of brioche dough. I ended up freezing half of the brioche dough because there was no way we could have eaten 14 buns in this house.

This weeks recipe was hosted by Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday. The recipe for the Pecan Sticky Buns can be found on page 190 in Baking with Julia.



Tuesdays With Dorie: Carrot Spice Muffins August 9, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Muffins,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 1:31 am
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The week of August 9th,  Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs.  She picked Dorie’s Carrot Spice Muffins, which is located on page 14 in Baking:From My Home to Yours.  I actually made these on time, and being a new mother has gotten in the way of me blogging on time for anything.  Emma has a pretty good schedule going and has for awhile, but I just haven’t gotten my schedule down.  Trying to accomplish things in a timely manner and not have Mike finishing it when he gets home from work is something that I am trying to work on.

These muffins were perfect.  They were moist, yummy, and very reminiscent of carrot cake but not as sweet.  I made these the week of Emma’s baptism, so they all actually got eaten and not by me 🙂  Well, I had a few, but then my parents and Mike helped.  Which I was surprised that Mike was willing to eat them because of his dislike toward coconut and nuts.  Everyone enjoyed them, even Mike 🙂


Tuesdays With Dorie: Cream Scones July 12, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Scones,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 11:56 am
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The Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for July 12th was picked by Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu.  She picked Dorie’s Cream Scones which are located on page 27 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  I actually made these the week after the challenge and then never posted, opps.  That is currently the story of my life because of Emma (my zombie baby…one of the many nicknames she has acquired).  She is currently sleep contently in my arms while I type this 🙂

For the Cream Scones, I decided to mix it up a bit and add a little flavor to them.  I stuck with the base of the recipe, but then I made the following additions/deletions:

1) Instead of currants I used chopped pecans

2) Added 3 tbsp of pumpkin puree and 1/4 tsp of pecan extract to the wet ingredients – I had some pumpkin leftover in the fridge 🙂

3) To add that traditional pumpkin pie flavor, I used 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger to the dry ingredients.

I knew this dough was going to be sticky so instead of added extra flour, I decided to use Dorie’s trick for shortbread.  I put the scone dough in a 1-gallon plastic bag, then I rolled it  inside the bag so that it was a even thickness.  I placed the bag in the freezer for about 15 minutes so that it would firm up and be easier to cut into 12 pieces.  Once the dough was firm, I sliced the bag open on the seams, cut it in half and cut each half into thirds (fat rectangles).  Then I cut eat rectangle on the diagonal, to form triangles.

After the scones were done in the oven, I drizzled them with two icing: vanilla and cinnamon.  The vanilla icing was just 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, splash of vanilla extract, and 1-3 tbsp cream.  You mix them together until you get the desired consistency.  For the cinnamon icing, I just added about 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon to the left over vanilla icing.

The scones turned out fantastic.  I was going for the flavor of Starbucks’s Pumpkin Scones and I think I might have hit it on the nose with this one.  I think next time, to make the scones thicker that I won’t roll them out as thin 🙂


Tuesdays With Dorie: Pecan Powder Puffs March 29, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cookies,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Tianne of Buttercream Barbie.  She picked Dorie’s Pecan Powder Puffs, which are located on page 156 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  Every time that I would read the title of the recipe I would think, what is that…without even glancing at the recipe.  My brain would always seems to want it to be some sort of meringue  type cookie, maybe it was just the fact that it said puffs in the recipe.

Once I took a lot at the recipe, I began to realize that this recipe looked very similar to something that my mom would make every Christmas and a cookie that I have taken up making now.  The only difference is that we use walnuts instead of pecans and confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar.  In my family, for some weird reason, we call these cookies Butterballs.  In Mike’s family they call them something along the lines of Rabbit Terds (that is what happens when there are 3 boys in the house).  I would always forget what he called them, and would refer to them as Snowman Poop, which he said should be the new name for them.  Rabbit Terds never felt right to me because we had 2 rabbits growing up and there little nuggets never looked like these cookies.  But I would imagine a Snowman would release something a long the lines of a snowball and since these cookies are rolled in confectioners’ sugar they actually resemble a little snowball 🙂

These cookies are very easy to make, and if you are going to vegan route you will be happy to note that the only thing you have to substitute is Vegan Butter because this recipe contains no eggs.  An extra bonus is that since there is no raw ingredients you can just sit there all day and pick at the cookie dough, which is very yummy.  For this recipe, I actually stuck to the recipe and I used pecans because that actually ended up being the only nut that we had in the house 🙂

These cookies baked up perfectly.  The taste is slightly different since it is made with pecans instead of the walnuts that I am use to, but they had a nice tender butter texture and the pecans added a nice nuttiness to it without it being bitter.


Daring Bakers’: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake March 28, 2011

Filed under: Baking,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 8:46 pm
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The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Coffee Cake is a favorite anytime food in my house, so I was very happy to make this.  I only made a few modifications to the recipe, which just involved the filling.  I increased the amount of granulated sugar and cinnamon, added brown sugar, and omitted the chocolate.  The recipe for the filling below is what I used and not what was originally in the recipe.  I also only made half a recipe because there is no way that the two of us could have finished two coffee cakes.  We are having trouble finishing one and that is why Mike is taking it into work tomorrow 🙂

The flavor reminded me of a cross between a cinnamon roll and monkey bread, which makes this recipe extra yummy. (more…)