More Baking

Believe it or not, there are a lot of sweets that don’t make it to the blog. A lot of times I am recipe testing or filling a customer order. Here are a few shots from my instagram:

Clockwise from top left: vanilla cake with lemon cream filling, covered in swiss meringue butter cream / vanilla cake with strawberries and fresh cream, covered in swiss meringue buttercream / gluten free cupcake / chocolate ganache truffles.

 Did you know that I offer dessert catering? If you’re looking for desserts for a special occasion I am more than happy to help. I’ve been making a lot of cakes lately, but am also available for an assortment of cookies and pastries! Feel free to drop me a line.

Easy Chocolate Ganache Truffles

If you’ve ever been intimidated by chocolate, this recipe is for you. Simply a combination of chocolate and heavy cream, ganache is a versatile ingredient with many applications. Use it to cover cakes in a smooth, shiny layer,  to fill cakes and pastries, or make truffles like we did here. This is an easy dessert with hardly any hands on work, perfect if you’re having guests over for dinner but don’t have time to make a special treat.

The ratio of cream to chocolate changes the consistency from being pourable to scooping with a melon baller. For these easy chocolate ganache truffles, I used 2 parts chocolate 1 part cream. Heat the cream just until steaming, ten pour over chocolate. Let stand for a few moments, then stir to combine. Place container in the fridge to harden, then scoop out to make balls. You can add nuts, dried fruit, or anything else your heart desires. It is common to roll them in cocoa powder, but I used dried cake crumbs for a bit of texture. Here are some more resources for additional help: Mark Bittman, Joy of Baking, and Serious Eats.

Tartine’s Devil’s Food Layer Cake

After making Sweetapolita’s Neapolitan cake a few weeks ago, I’ve been itching for another attempt at cake making. Thumbing through my cook books, Tartine’s devil’s food layer cake caught my eye. While I enjoyed the simplicity of its appearance, a crumb coated cake topped off with a dollop of ganache, I knew with a name like that I’d be in for a chocolaty treat. And boy was I ever. This was by far the most rich and luscious cake I’ve ever made, let alone eaten.

Comprised of bittersweet chocolate ganache and a fresh batch of caramel sandwiched between five layers of chocolate cake (with over 1 cup of cocoa powder and 1 pound of sugar), this cake is definitely not for the faint of heart. After carefully layering each decadent ingredient,  the cake is covered with a thin layer of even more ganache and coated it with a dusting of leftover cake crumbs. I really loved how this came out. It’s the ultimate chocolate lover’s cake without giving you a tooth ache. With such intense flavor, a small sliver is all you need to satisfy your craving. From the smooth ganache, to the gooey caramel, to the crunch of the cake crumb, the combination of textures were a great variation of the theme: chocolate.

I wouldn’t say this was hard to make, just a bit time consuming. But what layered cakes aren’t? Finishing the cake would have been a lot easier if I used a rotating cake stand but I’ve yet to purchase one. Even still, I’m quite happy with how even my layers of ganache came out. My only criticism is I wish the outer crumb coat was more even, but again, without the cake stand I was too scared to move it around too much.

You can find the entire recipe online here, but I’d definitely recommend buying the book.

Lemon Cream Pavlova – Recipe

Wow! I’m so happy to read that many of you would like the recipe to yesterday’s Lemon Cream Pavlova. In the span of two days I’ve probably eaten 4? 5? It’s probably a good thing that I can’t remember. This is a pretty simple recipe with only two components plus whipped cream. I want to host a dinner party just so I can serve these!

Lemon Cream Pavlova

- pavlova/meringue base (recipe follows)
- lemon cream (recipe follows)
- heavy cream
- lemon zest

Whip fresh heavy cream. (I prefer to leave it slightly under whipped. Just make sure you don’t over whip it!) With a teaspoon, slightly crack top of a meringue to create a depression. Add a dollop of lemon cream, then another dollop of freshly whipped heavy cream. Finish with lemon zest.

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Eating Healthy: Roasted Beet Sandwich

I was never a fan of beets until my last trip to San Francisco. We went to Chez Panisse Cafe for dinner and one of us (I can’t remember who, but it wasn’t me) ordered a delicious beet salad that was just about perfect. After that first bite I couldn’t even remember why I disliked them in the first place. Shortly after that I came across a photo of someone’s beet sandwich on instagram and I was instantly flooded with memories of that perfect beet salad. I knew I had to recreate it somehow even if I had no clue what was inside.

The original plan was to pair it with goat cheese but I forgot to pick some up at the grocery store. I should be restricting indulgent purchases anyway because our food bill is starting to get a little out of control. So instead, I made a white bean spread (from some beans I accidentally overcooked) seasoned with some rosemary and lemon.  I roasted a few beets in the oven and toasted a baguette in the broiler. The resulting sandwich was so good I ate two in a row (one to photograph, of course!). I paired it with a simple spinach salad and iced honey green tea.

Also, do you remember this post where I mention my frustration with my photos? I’m happy to share that these photos weren’t styled and that our dining table actually looks like that right now. This made taking photos so much easier and my meal much more enjoyable. I made a little tablecloth/runner from some remnant linen fabric by just ripping it to get a raw edge. The flowers are leftovers from our housewarming party, the candle is by OUI from Myrtle and sitting atop my Herriott Grace mini cake stand. That’s my favorite candle right now, by the way. It’s patchouli rose scented but don’t let the description scare you off. I often move it to my nightstand so I can smell it before bed (unlit, of course). It looks like it’s sold out in her shop right now, but if you’re lucky Myrtle still might have some!

Roasted Beet Sandwich

2-3 roasted beets
white bean spread (recipe follows)
1 clove of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper
lemon zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. Wash and cut tops off beets and wrap them together in an aluminum foil packet. Place in oven for about 45 minutes or until beets can be pierced with a fork. Once cooked, run under cool water and using your hands, slip the peels off. Thinly slice beets then set aside.

Slice baguette in half and drizzle with olive oil, then rub with garlic clove. Place in broiler or toaster until it’s turned a bit crispy and has slightly browned. Rub with garlic clove again if you like.

Place a generous amount of white bean spread on bottom half of baguette, then layer beet slices on top. Finish off with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and lemon zest if you like.

White Bean Spread
all measurements approximate

1 c white beans
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place white beans in a blender and slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add more olive oil if necessary to create a smooth paste. Place in a small bowl and mix in remaining ingredients until combined.

Meyer Lemon Donut Holes

A little while ago Gary surprised me with a handful of organic Meyer lemons. I don’t know about you but over here they can get a bit pricey, so they’re more of a once a year treat. Naturally, I hemmed and hawed about what to make with them. I looked through dozens of recipes but none of them excited me. I wanted a recipe that would its flavor shine! In the end though, I went with a good old standby of lemon curd. I still have two more though, so if you have any suggestions feel free to send them my way!

I also made a few “onion rings” by punching out a bigger hole than usual. Because they were thinner they came out more on the crispy/crunchy side rather than the usual soft donut. The thicker parts puffed up nicely and it was a pleasant combination of both textures.

Donut Holes
adapted from Lara Ferroni

2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 c AP flour
1 1/2 tbsp soy flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 c milk
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 oz butter
vegetable oil for frying

Warm the milk to about 100° F. In a medium bowl, dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp yeast into 3/4 cup milk. Add 3/4 cup flour and mix to combine, then cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

Combine the rest of the milk (1/4 c) and yeast (1/2 tbsp) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add flour mixture (above), vanilla, and egg yolks, and mix until smooth. Add 1 c of flour, sugar, and salt. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then add butter until incorporated. Change to the dough hook and slowly add about 1/4 c flour at a time, kneading on medium speed. Keep adding flour until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2″ thick. Cut out donuts to your size (1″ for donut holes, 3″ for regular donuts, etc) and place them on a baking sheet lined with a dish towel. Cover donuts with plastic wrap and let them proof for about 30 minutes. To be sure they’re ready, gently press on the dough. If it bounces back immediately let it proof a bit longer. If it springs back slowly they’re ready for frying.

In a heavy bottomed pot heat about 2″ of oil to 375° F. With a metal slotted spoon, gently place donuts into the oil. Fry for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove with spoon and place on paper towels or wire rack.

Meyer Lemon Curd
1/4 c meyer lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter, cubed
3 egg yolks

In a stainless steel or glass bowl, combine sugar, egg yolks, and lemon juice and place over simmering water to create a double boiler. Continue stirring until mixture thickens and comes to about 160° F, about 10 minutes. Strain mixture, then gradually whisk in butter.

As luck would have it, this was the best photo that came out of the bunch. That’s what I get for only getting  3 hours of sleep the night before! Luckily I get to make the cake again this weekend for Gary’s dad’s birthday (and practice my piping skills too). The cake is a recipe from Sweetapolita, a devil’s food cake with swiss meringue buttercream. In the foreground are my PB&J cookies and mini apple pies.  I also made marshmallows and graham crackers for a little s’more station. In the background is a streamer backdrop off of this tutorial and added my fabric flowers as decoration.

Eating Healthy: Potato and Celery Soup

Some days no matter how good of a mood you’re in or how well you’ve planned your day, things just won’t go as planned. Today was one of those days.

This morning I hopped out of bed determined to get a few nagging things off my to do list, but by 10 am I was already in tears. (Though, if you ask my family, I will cry for just about anything). It was still early enough in the day to turn things around so I attempted baked sweet potato fries to cheer myself up. Unfortunately they didn’t turn out like I expected. Admitting defeat for the day, I hopped back into my pajamas and took a little nap.

By the time I woke up (I won’t mention how long my nap was), I was well overdue for something to eat. Our CSA box was filled to the brim and I knew I had to make a dent in it. But with everything going awry the last thing I wanted was to waste our organic veggies on a failed meal. Instead, I went with my gut and made something simple. Not too many ingredients, not too many seasonings, not too much to mess up. And since I had no recipe or any real end result in mind I knew I couldn’t be too disappointed. After a saute and simmer of potatoes, celery, chicken broth, and a few other things here and there, I ended up with a simple yet cozy warm soup to comfort me. Just what I was hoping for.

Days like today remind me that I can’t plan my life to a T. Things will inevitably go wrong, but I just have to get up and keep going. And sometimes when you least expect it, things will turn out even better than you imagined.


Also, I must mention that I made this in my Vitamix, which has been amazing. The soup came out smooth and creamy without any milk or cream involved! If you are on the fence about getting one I’d highly recommend it.

There isn’t much of recipe, but if you’d like to try this all I did was dice some potatoes (about 1 cup worth), chopped up 3 celery stalks and sauteed over medium high heat for 5 minutes with salt, pepper, thyme, and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Then I poured in 1 1/2 cup of chicken broth and simmered for about 10 minutes. Poured it into my Vitamix and blended until smooth, finished off with a bit more thyme, olive oil, and some fennel.

Eating Healthy: Kale Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing

So, my original plan was to post healthy recipes on Thursdays so you can buy the ingredients over the weekend and have a healthy meal for the following week. But I soon realized it’s the beginning of the week that I need encouragement to eat better to recoup from the not so healthy stuff I ate over the weekend (like Sunday brunch).

I came up with a vague idea of a massaged kale salad last Thursday but was so surprised by the results that I knew I wanted to perfect the recipe. Massaging oil into the kale softens it up quite a bit so you’re not left with dry, coarse leaves.  It was light and hearty and the same time and the sweetness of the honey dressing was a nice change from my usual balsamic vinaigrette. You can cut the rib out of the kale if it’s too tough, but I don’t mind eating it. If it’s really thick I’ll save it for one of my smoothies.

I added the radishes on a whim because we just received them in our CSA box. Before this, I don’t think I’d ever prepared them myself. I was expecting them to be bitter and unpleasant but found them to taste like the Chinese radish cakes that I grew up on. Roasting them into chips added a nice texture and I liked the hint of red it gave as well.

Kale Salad
serves 2

1 bunch, about 6 cups kale, chopped/torn
5-7 radishes, sliced
4 tbsp pine nuts, or any nut of your choice

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey

2 tsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Chop kale into bite sized pieces. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp honey. Pour over kale and massage into leaves for about 2 minutes. You will notice the kale getting a bit softer and settling down into a smaller bunch. Set aside.

3. Thinly slice radishes, then place in the previous small bowl (with your marinade above) and toss in residual olive oil mixture. Separate each slice on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, turning the radishes halfway through, until crisp.

4. Make your dressing by whisking together 2 tsp honey, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp olive oil. Right before serving, toss pine nuts, dressing, and kale together. Season with freshly cracked pepper and top off with radish chips.