Tuesday, June 19, 2012

French strawberry cake (TWD: BwJ)

Genoise and I haven't always gotten along (read this story if you're interested in a cocoa genoise complete comedy of errors), so I was a little nervous about this week's TWD: BwJ recipe: French strawberry cake.

But then we went strawberry picking on the spur of the moment (I love summer!), and it seemed that I'd have to make it for sure. I macerated the strawberries ahead of time, and assuming I'd make a half-recipe because I always do, I used half the amounts.

The next day, I read the instructions for the cake: oops! The recipe makes an 8" round....which I don't own. I have a 9" or a 6". The 6" was too big for a half-batch, so, being too lazy to try to scale the recipe correctly, I made a full recipe, filled the 6", a ramekin, and had a little batter left over.

I knew many people had struggled with the cake, so I was uber-careful. I let the eggs sit in warm water for a long time, carefully measured out all ingredients ahead of time (including sifting the flour prior to measuring because I noticed that it said "1 cup sifted flour" and not "1 cup flour, sifted"), and read each step about 17 times. When my eggs and sugar hadn't doubled in volume after 5 minutes of whipping, I remembered something I'd read on the P&Q about the egg temperature...sure enough, when I stuck my finger in the bowl, the eggs were cool. I set the mixing bowl in a bowl of hot water, and after about five minutes, the eggs felt warm; they whipped up beautifully after that.

When it came time to fold in the flour, I decided not to use my usual method, which usually yields sketchy results: I usually dump in the flour and use a rubber spatula to fold. Instead, I carefully sifted bits of flour over the top and then used a big balloon whisk. This seemed to work. The batter didn't deflate nearly as much as it usually does. The ramekin baked in 24 minutes, and the 6" cake baked in 27 minutes.

While they baked, I made the whipped cream (a full batch because it sounded too good not to): cream, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla...yes, please!

The cake was tall enough to cut in three layers, but I was just making it for our family dessert and it was late and I was tired, so I went the lazy route: two layers and no fancy decorating. It didn't matter; we all loved this cake. I usually make the kids eat dinner before dessert (on the rare occasions when we have dessert), but once in a while, when I make something extra special, I serve it with the meal. The little guy gobbled his cake up before touching anything else, and then said, "There seems to be a problem; my cake is all gone. I think I need another serving."

For the recipe, check out our hosts' blogs: Sophia of Sophia’s Sweets and Allison of Sleep Love Think Dine, and to see what everyone else thought, check the links.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Strawberry picking

little girl: plain strawberry smoothie
little guy: strawberry/blueberry smoothie
grown-ups: green smoothie (spinach, strawberries, banana, yogurt)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blueberry crumb cake (Modern Baker)

Happy June! With the start of summer, we are beginning our final section in The Modern Baker Challenge: cakes. I've actually already made a few cakes from this section: the devil's food cake, the individual cheesecakes (yum!), and the milk chocolate mousse cake ~ a comedy of errors and one of my five very favorite recipes from the entire book.

Apparently I have somewhat of an obsession with all things blueberry, as my official recipe for the muffin section was blueberry muffins, my official recipe for pies was blueberry pie (another one of my top five), and when it came time to pick an official recipe for the cake section, I took the blueberry crumb cake.

The cake layer is a normal golden cake, made with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, egg yolks, and buttermilk. Before baking, you press a ton of blueberries into the top and cover with a crumb topping. Mine baked for an extra ten minutes, and I'm still not certain the very center was baked through; I might give it an extra five next time.

I made a full recipe for my hubby's end-of-the-year school picnic, and it disappeared. The cake was light and fluffy, the blueberries achieved the promised jam-like consistency, and the crumb topping was, well, a crumb topping...delicious!

(In case you're wondering, the rest of my top five are the ham and egg tart, the bittersweet chocolate tart, and the coconut chocolate pecan bars. My most-made recipe, though, are the butterscotch chocolate chip scones, requested almost weekly by my children!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Food for a rainy day: Oasis Naan (TWD: BwJ)

Our first June TWD: BwJ recipe is oasis naan.

When my friend Phyl found out that he was hosting, he proposed a Twitterbake of butter chicken and naan. We were all supposed to make it on a Thursday...and then were all too tired/busy to cook. And then we were supposed to make it on Friday. So Thursday night, I quickly mixed up the dough with warm water, yeast, flour, and salt, and kneaded it on the counter until it was smooth. You're supposed to leave it on the counter for a couple hours or refrigerate it overnight; I stuck mine in the fridge. And then we got invited to a last-minute barbecue at our friends' new house...couldn't pass that up! So I missed out on the Twitterbake once again, and my naan dough lived in the fridge for an extra day.

Finally on Saturday, even though we were heading to the ballpark for dinner, I made the butter chicken and naan. Because both naans in BwJ are made with the same base dough, I decided to try both recipes: Persian naan and oasis naan. And because I'd only made a half-batch of the dough, I made one large Persian naan and two small oasis naan.

The oasis naan is cut into small pieces, rolled out into six-inch circles, punctured with a fork, and then sprinkled with scallions, kosher salt, and cumin seeds. Then it is baked for a short time in a 500ยบ oven on a preheated baking stone. Apparently I didn't puncture my bread vigorously enough because mine puffed up quite a bit...which we actually liked. I will blog the Persian naan when it comes up, but I will say that all of the adults preferred the puffy oasis naan, and it was the perfect tool to eat the butter chicken.

The butter chicken recipe was easier to make than our standby recipe (curried chicken with tomato almond sauce) and the flavor was very similar; I did miss the peas and onion chunks, though. The naan was delicious; our usual naan recipe is brushed with ghee, so we missed that a bit, but cooking these in the oven was much less hectic than trying to do it on the stovetop as my other recipe calls for. And we really loved the puffy texture; I think, with the exception of the missing ghee, that we have a new favorite naan recipe.

Indian butter chicken and naan is not a traditional tailgating meal, but it was delicious and enjoyed by all!

Check out the recipe here on Phyl's blog or here on Maggie's blog. Or better yet, buy the book! And check out other TWDers' naan experience here.