I collect cookie cutters. I love the different shapes and the way they can make an ordinary cookie look fantastic. The weird part about my cookie cutter collection? I don’t like using them. They’re generally too fussy to make: letting the dough chill, rolling it out, chilling it again…I’m more of a drop cookie kind of girl.
I turned to Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy for a recipe. The recipe makes a huge batch, but the cookie cutters are huge so it produced about 18 cookies. I used vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract. It’s worth the splurge if you’re looking to wow others.
To prevent the dough from sticking to the cutter, lightly dip the cookie cutter in flour first. You want to press firm, but not too deeply to get a good impression onto the cookie. Usually I like to roll my dough thicker than called for to make soft cookies, but if you do that here, the wording gets all marred. It should be rolled out to 1/8″.
Along with the cookies I decided to try my hand at a red velvet cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. People rave about red velvet. I find it a bit scary with all that red food colouring. What used to be a natural chemical reaction with an acid reacting to the cocoa powder has turned into how much red dye #47 we can shove into a cake. Despite the scary almost neon colour, it received rave reviews. Scary colour aside, it was moist and the cream cheese frosting didn’t feel heavy.
Recipe for red velvet cake from Heavenly Cakes can be found here.
I love making recipes that involve lengthy processes. It helps me learn patience I guess. My family, however, always requests simple easy to make cakes whenever I offer to bake them up something. My mom’s birthday just passed and wanted something simple and not fussy. As usual, I went to my go to cake book, Heavenly Cakes.
This cake is not fussy or complicated at all. I was able to make the cake without going to the grocery store. You may need to go out and buy some whipping cream if unlike me you don’t have a litre of it in your fridge along with 3 pounds of butter. This is a nice and light cake. It does have a huge helping of whipping cream in it, so don’t go thinking this is diet food.
It’s a very short ingredient list and by the time the oven is done preheating this cake could be in the oven. The hardest part about this recipe is buttering and flouring the pan. I also recommend that you grease the cooling rack like the book suggests. I ignored the instructions and the cake ended up sticking like crazy.
This recipe will be in my arsenal of cakes I can quickly throw together. Definitely give it a try.
For my sister’s birthday, when I asked what cake she wanted, she mentioned a cake I had made a year ago for my grandmother’s birthday. It was a simple cake thrown together that the adults liked, but didn’t win the hearts of the kids. I’m guessing it’s because of the lack of sweet frosting. Instead, in its place was fluffy whipped cream.
This recipe comes from The Cake Bible. The cake is dead simple to make. More efficient bakers could probably mix up everything and have the batter in the pan before the oven is done preheating. For the simplest presentation, a dusting of icing sugar is all that’s needed. I decided to cut the cake in half and fill it with whipped cream and raspberries. It’s a great Spring/Summer cake that you can definitely play around with.
Recipe here. For the filling, just beat whipping cream with some sugar and then put it on one layer of cake, add berries, and then place the other cake layer on top.
I have to be honest, ever since working regular hours I haven’t had the inclination to cook. Getting home at 7pm means dinner at around 8 or later. The hours I used to spend making something extremely delicious just isn’t going to happen on a weekday. You know who makes time to cook after work? The husband. He’s a better person than me. I’m now on the lookout for fast easy meals.
Weekends, I can find time to bake. Especially if it’s for a birthday.
R’s mom turned a big number this year and when I asked what kind of cake she wanted, she said carrot cake. I’m a big fan of carrot cake and there was a recipe in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I have to say this is one of the best carrot cakes I have ever tried. It’s super moist and the frosting was so easy to make. I was wondering if the white chocolate would work with the carrot cake, but it does. It gives it a nice sweetness without having to use a bunch of powdered sugar. You also make it in the food processor so it’s hassle free (minus the melting of chocolate that can be done in the microwave). If you want to frost the sides of the cake, I recommend making a double batch, I did not have enough frosting to make the cake look pretty enough.
I haven’t been disappointed by any of the cakes in this book and this cake is no exception. R’s dad was really taken by this cake judging by the number of times he would say “Wow, this is really good cake!” out of the blue.
The Pie and Pastry Bible is book #2 for week 2 of my reviews. I’m a huge fan of Rose Levy Beranbaum and I practically have her entire book collection. As with her other “bibles”, this is a huge book with over 300 recipes. There is an entire chapter just on crusts. What I like most about Beranbaum’s books is that weights are listed along with the volume measurement. Weights are much more accurate as 1 cup of flour can be anywhere from 4-6 ounces — a difference that can make something dry instead of moist.
Instructions in this book are very explicit and the tone is very methodical. It seems people either love or hate this tone. The instructions can get wordy and this is sometimes confusing. I have to admit I don’t like her method for making pie crusts. She has you put all the ingredients in a big ziplock bag and use that to knead everything. I’d rather much feel the dough under my hands. The bag is there to prevent stickiness and you can use food safe gloves instead. The resulting dough is really easy to roll out and shape. Her favourite crust is the cream cheese crust, but my favourite crust in her book is the deluxe flaky one. Very flaky and tender.
I’ve made several items from the book and they have all been tasty. Noteworthy ones are the pumpkin pie, peach pie, and the cheddar cheese crust is amazing. One possible drawback is that a lot of these recipes are lengthy and usually complicated. The results are worth the labour in my opinion, but if you’re looking for a quick and easy book, this is not for you.
Overall, if you’re looking to perfect your pastry and pie making skills, this is the book that should be on your shelf. While my pies won’t win any beauty pageants any time soon, they are pretty darn tasty.
I finally made my way to Fiesta Farms and spotted Meyer lemons. I’ve only heard about these guys from food blogs. Meyer lemons are supposed to be sweeter, it’s a cross between an orange and a lemon.
Lemon meringue pie was destined to be.
Lemon meringue is probably one of my most favourite kind of pie. I may even like it better than pumpkin. It’s the meringue piled high and when it’s toasted, the crunch and lightness that you get in your mouth that I love. I even like the slight tartness of a lemon, it balances the sweetness of the meringue.
I’m terrible at making pies look pretty. I roll out the pie dough that’s never quite circular in shape and my fluting is pitiful. It’s all about practice I guess, but maybe I should give up and make tarts instead?
I rolled out the pie dough too thin so to get a piece you grab a spoon and scoop it out onto a plate. To make matters worse, I left my Italian meringue unattended while I was whipping it and didn’t turn out quite right. Despite appearances, it’s a very smooth filling and isn’t too tart. I’d prefer it to be more tart, so I’ll use less sugar if I make it with Meyer lemons. The meringue is very light and it isn’t the usual overly sweet meringue.
I’d like to try this recipe again — it’d be nice to have a pie you could cut and serve instead of scooping it out.