Dec. 1st, 2014 03:47 pm
telophase: (goku - chewing)
So that post I made last week asking for suggestions for semi-spectacular desserts? This is what I ended up with:

And this is what it looks like when cut open:

It's Serious Eats' Chocolate Decadence Cake, which is a triple-layer bittersweet chocolate cake with chocolate filling, buttercream frosting, and topped with chocolate ganache.

It's denser than it ought to be because it calls for cake flour, and I made it, and as I was icing it, I idly looked to my left, and as my gaze fell on the unopened cake flour box I thought "Huh. I wonder why we bought that?" and then it struck me and I thought "Oh, fuck." Everyone who ate it told me it was great anyway and that they didn't think it needed to be fluffier and I silently thought YOU ARE ALL HEATHENS IT SHOULD BE FLUFFIER and ARGH DO THEY THINK I'M FISHING FOR COMPLIMENTS but merely said "Thank you." It was good that it was flat, in a way, because that meant it fit into a 10x10x4" box, and that fit EXACTLY into the soft-side freezable picnic cooler we got, so it stayed refrigerated all the way down to Mom's, and then all the way to Toby's parents, and then the leftovers made it to my aunt and uncle's house, and the last couple of slices made it back to Mom's.

It was almost a $500 cake, as the recipe I was using for the buttercream frosting had you pour a hot sugar syrup into an egg/butter mixture as you were beating it, and said to beat for 5-10 minutes, until the bowl was no longer warm. 30 minutes of beating later I resorted to wrapping ice cubes in a dish towel and surrounding the base of the bowl on the stand mixer to get it cool. I was terrified that our 25-year-old inherited stand mixer's motor would burn out, but it powered on through, despite getting quite hot to the touch, and seems to have survived. I have to admit that I am vaguely disappointed at not having an excuse to start saving for one of the latest KitchenAid mixers and various accessories (the bowl goes up and down! there's a lid with a spout so you can pour powdered sugar into the bowl while it's mixing and not have a cloud arise and cover the room!).

But the buttercream icing was DELICIOUS, tasting like vanilla ice cream base, so there's that.

Next time: cake flour, a different buttercream that won't kill my mixer (sigh), and perhaps a different recipe with only two layers because as I get older I am finding I much prefer the cake part to the icing part, an opinion that my twelve-year-old self would find HERETICAL.

P.S. I also made whoopie pies. :D


Aug. 19th, 2014 02:14 pm
telophase: (goku - chewing)
So my subconscious created a cake last night in a dream. It was on the order of the three-layer stacked cake from Momofuku Milk Bar's cookbook, that I talked about earlier.

The cake base was made of plain yellow or white cake. The first filling was a bit spicy, something like a jalapeño jelly (jam for you non USAians). The first crunch layer was chopped pecans. Then another round of cake, and a non-spicy filling that was, I think, a plain buttercream (to allow people who didn't want spicy to eat it), then the third round, topped with chocolate ganache and pecan halves, with a little pile of jalapeno jelly piled in the middle. Although in the dream, I was describing the spicy filling as "like that stuff you get on the table in Chinese restaurants" and when I woke up I realized I was picturing a cross between sweet and sour sauce and Thai dipping sauces made of vinegar and sugar.

In the plain light of day I can see that I forgot the soak, which is a flavored liquid dabbed onto the cake to moisten it and add flavor.

So I told Toby this, and he said that it actually sounded good, if it weren't too spicy. :) I can see that I'd have to make a few modifications. I'd toast the pecans, for one and thinking about it, pineapple and jalapeno make pretty durn good paletas, so I'd consider adding a pineapple-juice soak. I think maybe I'd replace the buttercream with a dulce de leche-based filling, to fit with the vaguely Tex-Mex theme.


And now I want caaaaaaaake.
telophase: (goku - chewing)
Well, I'm not on vacation, and it only took one day, but at least it's summer.

I have been making a Momofuku Milk Bar-style layer cake. MMB is the bakery part of Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC, and they have a cookbook out. Their cakes are assembled in several layers, then frozen to make it all incorporate into one big mass. You can read a short article and page trhough a slideshow about assembling one over on Serious Eats.

I'm not using one of their recipes, but something I cobbled together.

Read more... )
telophase: (Default)
Today's discovery is that if I put black rice in the rice cooker, along with a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and sake for it to cook in (plus some water!), then while it's cooking it smells like BREAD BAKING.

And I am so hungry.
telophase: (Default)
Now that you've got a basic technique* for making omelettes, you get to start playing. Eggs are fairly basic in flavor and meld well with all sorts of flavors from the savory end of the spectrum--pork and onions in U.S. diner-style omelettes--to the sweet--soy sauce, sake and sugar in Japanese omelettes.

* "A" basic technique, not "the" basic technique because there is no One Ideal Technique.

I'm staying closer to the savory end with this post because while I enjoy Japanese-style tamagoyaki, I've yet to cook one successfully in a way that achieves the folded layers of egg the traditional technique calls for. If you're interested in that, I suggest heading over to the tamagoyaki post on Just Hungry.
Read more... )
telophase: (Default)
The basic procedure for a basic omelette without any add-ins goes more-or-less thusly:

Crack your eggs into a small or medium-sized mixing bowl. Those in the know claim that striking your eggs against a thin surface like the edge of a bowl leads to more shell in the egg because it fractures it into pieces. You're supposed to crack them against a flat surface like the countertop. In practice, find that I get way more eggshell in the bowl and way more egg on the counter with the latter method, so I stick to the edge of the bowl (unless I managed to grab one of the plastic jobs instead of the metal mixing bowl).
Read more... )
telophase: (Default)
Waiting for thought to percolate about work-related matters (design and coding stuff, nothing exciting), so writing about omelettes instead, to give my backbrain time to work on the other stuff.

Omelettes have a rep for being hard to make*, but this is not necessarily true. There's about as many techniques out there as there are cooks (and as there are ways to spell omelette/omelet/omlet/etc), and if you ask around you'll find a range of opinions on what makes The Perfect Omelette (and you'll find discussion getting heated at times as people discover that Someone on the Internet is Wrong about the proper way to make one).

* Or at least that's been my experience when telling people I make omlettes--I even had one roommate who demanded I make one in front of her, as she couldn't believe that the average person could make one. Your mileage may vary.
Read more... )
telophase: (Default)
First, Nefer. With one of the faraway expression she has when sitting on the router warming her butt.

cut for pic )

Next: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.

OK, that's a bit of hyperbole, both the Revolutionizes!* language and the five minutes, but it is an interesting way to approach making bread. It's sort of like that no-knead bread that took the Internet by storm a while back in that it's a no-knead solution, but with this you make a large batch of dough and store it in the fridge, lopping offf a pound or so at a time when you want to bake.

The five minutes refers to the amount of time you spend directly working with the bread on baking day, not counting the resting stage and baking stage, but the mixing is only about fifteen minutes or so.

This appealed to me because my wrists, while not hurting during most normal daily activities, are too badly damaged by RSI to knead bread. Five minutes kneading bread and I can't type without pain for a week. Also, because the loaves are SMALL. Toby and I like bread, and like to buy it, especially from the local baker here, but the loaves are always too big and we never finish an entire loaf before it starts molding.

So today we made up our first batch. You mix it in a large container that can hold at least five quarts, stirring it with a spoon or, if it gets too stiff, pressing it together gently with your hands. And then you let it rise for two hours, after which you stick it in the fridge. Although it's easier to handle if you chill it for at least 3 hours, after an hour we were already starting to get hungry, so I went ahead and took out a pound or so. You don't knead it at this stage, either, just gently stretch it and roll the edges under until it's smooth and dome-shaped. They explain that you're creating a 'gluten cloak,' working the gluten on the outside until they gluten fibers (or whatever they are) are lined up.** That created a crusty loaf.

You let it sit for 40 minutes, then bake it on a baking/pizza stone (you can do it on a cookie sheet or loaf pan, but the crust isn't as nice) and in half an hour or so, you have bread. Woo!

And here is our first loaf! )
You can see the size. It's perfect - cut into quarters, it's two servings for each of us.

This loaf isn't perfect - there were some oven-temp issues which resulted in it baking at a lower temp than it should, so it took longer and the interior was a bit too moist when I got bored and took it out. But the crust was still nice! The issues were that I heated the over to 450°F, like it said, then after I got the bread onto the baking stone and the water into the broiling pan on another shelf to steam it (it's a crust thing), the temp plunged to 350°F and stayed there until the water boiled away, much much later. So we'll need to play with the positioning of the water, I think, and heat the water even more before it goes in.

It was good anyway! We just used the master recipe, which makes about 5 loaves. There's a number of recipes and variants in the book, from rye to pita to I don't know what else. And instructions for nifty variants like baguettes and this funky shape that looks like a wheat sheaf.

Highly recommended if you're interested in home-baked bread but don't want to spend much time at once messing about with it.

* I envision the loaf of bread with a little red beret and a flag...

** I actually don't remember the wording, and the book's in the other room and I am too lazy to get it.

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